Cellphone network said threat to GPS

Feb. 22, 2011 at 8:49 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- A proposed faster U.S. cellphone network could interfere with global positioning systems, creating GPS "dead zones" across the country, researchers say.

GPS satellites transmit their navigation signals in the range 1559 to 1610 megahertz, close to the frequency band used by U.S. telecom company LightSquared, which communicates with its satellites in the 1525 to 1559 megahertz range known as the "L" band, NewScientist.com reported Tuesday.

Despite the closeness of the frequencies, GPS receivers have operated without any interference problems -- up to now.

In January the Federal Communications Commission gave preliminary approval for LightSquared to build 40,000 new high-speed 4G mobile wireless protocol base stations on the ground that would broadcast much stronger signals in the 1525 to 1559 MHz range to link to cellphones.

Engineers with GPS manufacturer Garmin International in Olathe, Kan., say this will seriously damage GPS reception and that it "will result in widespread, severe GPS jamming [and] will deny GPS service over vast areas of the United States."

LightSquared spokesman Jeff Carlisle responded by saying it is the GPS receivers, not his company's base stations, that are at fault.

"The issue is that some GPS receivers may be able to see into the L band where we operate," he said.

LightSquared has until Feb. 25 to submit a plan to the FCC for working with the GPS industry and federal agencies to analyze interference issues, NewScientist.com reported.

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