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BoatUS: LightSquared Still Threatens GPS

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Two weeks after declaring victory in its battle to defend GPS, BoatUS is cautioning sailors and other GPS users that they’re not “out of the woods just yet,” following a Federal Communications Commission decision to extend the public comment period on the issue to March 16.

On February 14, the FCC announced it was going to revoke its previous conditional approval of wireless operator LightSquared’s plans to construct a broadband wireless system that operates in a frequency very close to that already used for GPS transmissions.

Lightsquared has since asked for an extension of the public comment period on the February 14 decision, and BoatUS is encouraging GPS users to take advantage of this extra time to press home their case.

“At every turn LightSquared has proven its resiliency to delay the inevitable," says BoatUS President Margaret Podlich. "This latest move is no surprise, and we hope the additional two weeks gives GPS users the chance to have their voice heard,"

Last summer, over 18,000 boaters and GPS users wrote the FCC asking it to stop plans by LightSquared until independent tests proved there would be no interference with GPS devices which operate on nearby frequencies.

While there is no disagreement over the fact that the more powerful transmissions planned by LightSquare can interfere with the relatively week signals sent by satellites to GPS devices on the ground, GPS defenders and LightSquared disagree over how serious the impact of that interference will be.

LightSquared also claims that GPS users and manufacturers are ultimately to blame for the problem because they have failed to make their products resilient enough to the very interference LightSquared hopes to create.

“GPS in America has become ‘too big to fail.’ This is not an endorsement – it’s a sad fact,” says Jeff Carlisle, LightSquared VP for regulator affairs and public policy. “Like Wall Street, the manufacturers of GPS devices have spent years profiting off of vulnerable technology and are now seeking protection from the government instead of implementing the necessary reforms.”

The Coalition to Save Our GPS—which is comprised of such disparate groups as BoatUS, the American Sailing Association, FedEx, Garmin and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association—vehemently denies such accusations, saying they proceed from “the same false premises and claims that LightSquared has repeated ad nauseam in its ongoing effort to deny its obligation to avoid harmful interference to millions of government and private GPS users.”  

For more on the issue, including details on how to make your voice heard, visit BoatUS.com or call 800-395-2628.

For LightSquared’s position, visit lightsquared.com

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