Posts Tagged ‘gps interference’

FightSquared Drama

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

This is probably as close as you’ll get to real drama at the Satellite 2012 show in Washington, DC. The annual show, dominated by geosynchronous communications satellite operators and their respective technical ecosystems, has a full conference schedule over several days. The conferences are pretty tame and not much is said beyond what’s on their PowerPoint pitches.

Enter the LightSquared and GPS interference fiasco. The event: a session entitled “LightSquared and GPS: Status Update and Lesson Learned.” The cast: an editor of Via Satellite as the moderator (Jeff Hill) and four combatants: Dr. Javad Ashjaee, President & CEO, JAVAD GNSS; Brock Butler, Director, Location Technology, Spirent; Jeff Carlisle, Executive Vice President for Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy, LightSquared; Jason Rademacher, Senior Counsel, Dow Lohnes PLLC; Bronson Hokuf, Principal Engineer, GPS Systems, Garmin Intl.

So who gets the prize? Nobody, as chronicled by Debra Baker of sister publication Communications Technology:

Despite the wrangling between the GPS industry and nationwide satellite broadband wannabe LightSquared being on the front burner inside the Beltway, it was not a standing-room-only group at this morning’s “LightSquared and GPS: Status Update and Lesson Learned” panel at Satellite 2012.

And it wasn’t much of a status update or a lessons-learned commentary. Rather, it was more of a marketing ploy by one panelist, a reiteration of test results from two others, and some pointed looks between LightSquared’s regulatory guy and a senior lawyer from Dow Lohnes who speaks FCC.

According to Javad Ashjaee, president & CEO of JAVAD GNSS, which last fall was tapped by LightSquared to develop a system that would eliminate interference issues for high-precision GPS devices related to the deployment of LightSquared’s proposed nationwide LTE network and, thus, heal its headache at the FCC, that job has been completed. In fact, any problems that had been caused by interference to such devices were the fault of the GPS industry itself and not by LightSquared’s business plan.

Ashjaee proclaimed that high-precision GPS device makers have known for several years that their gear was susceptible to interference but have chosen to do nothing to modify their filters. He said his company performed four tests with its new filter on 14 different GPS receivers, and no technical flaws were found. As such, he now wants at least his 2 mm by 2 mm filter to be included in all GPS devices.

He also categorized as “scare tactics” any aviation-industry talk of planes and helicopters going down due to interference from LightSquared’s proposed service. “LightSquared is tilted down 60 degrees and will have no effect on plans,” Ashjaee said. “It’s all over. There is no effort (by the aviation industry) to find a solution. They have grouped together to stop LightSquared. $14 billion in investment will be lost.”

Speaking for neutral-party tester Spirent, Brock Butler, director/Location Technology, said he’s tested LightSquared signals against GPS signals, and he believes today’s standards for receivers and for testing need to be better.

Spirent’s test results showed that most smartphones with GPS apps weren’t affected adversely by LightStream’s signals but, on the high-precision GPS receiver side, there’s a big problem.

Adds Bronson Hokuf, principal engineer/GPS Systems at Garmin, standards for consumer GPS gear are much less stringent than those for aviation, “but that makes sense.” He cited a National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) report released a month ago that found 75 percent of the receivers it tested experienced interference from LightSquared, “and it would take years to make any changes.”

Hokuf also mentioned a January FAA report that said LightSquared is not compatible with FAA specs for low-altitude planes and helicopters.

Only Mildly Ruffled Feathers

It was during the Q&A session that things got moderately contentious. There appears to be some disconnect regarding if and when LightSquared ever was required by the FCC to develop an integrated satellite/terrestrial handset (which one attendee said would be a boon to disaster-relief efforts). LightSquared’ Jeff Carlisle, president for regulatory affairs and public policy, said his company never was asked, but Garmin’s Hokuf said there was a change to the company’s FCC paperwork that does require one.

And then there is the idea of moving LightSquared’s operation from the upper 10 megahertz of its spectrum to the lower 10 megahertz to avoid interference issues. Carlisle said that issue should have been raised earlier, and that LightSquared now may have to shell out an additional $1 billion “to accommodate GPS.”

On the other hand, Jason Rademacher, a senior attorney at Dow Lohnes, said it would be no simple task to retrofit the entire aviation fleet to accommodate interference from one service provider.

And the battle between the filter manufacturer and the GPS maker? JAVAD’s Ashjaee refused to let go of the idea that because 75 percent of filters are bad, technology can cure this without hampering the future. He challenged Garmin’s Hokuf to test the JAVAD filter with Garmin’s gear, but Hokuf said his company is under no obligation to do this.

“This filter is the only one JAVAD makes that is LightSquared-compatible; the rest of its products are not,” Hokuf said. “You don’t take one product and demand that the rest of the industry use it. And Garmin already builds to FAA standards.”

And aiming at Ashjaee, he pointedly concluded, “Since you think it is so easy, we will be happy to compete with you on the open market.”

Soybeans and Satellites

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Don’t mess with farmers — especially soybean farmers. They farmed $38.9 billion last year and now they’re getting together with 12 other national farmer groups to pick a fight with LightSquared.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) and a coalition of 12 other national producer groups that represent American farmers and all major crop commodities are urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct additional targeted testing to ensure that any potential commercial terrestrial services offered by LightSquared will not cause harmful interference to Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) operations utilized by farmers to facilitate the production of an abundant and dependable food supply. In the agricultural sector, GPS-based technologies are responsible for an estimated $19 billion in higher annual farm revenue, in addition to considerable safety and environmental benefits. Thus, much is at stake for precision agriculture and this is why comprehensive testing is so important.

It would be totally unacceptable to expect the GPS community including government users, farmers, and other taxpayers to bear any cost for replacing equipment that ceases to function properly if solutions are found enabling LightSquared to move forward. Any costs associated with retrofitting or replacing GPS receivers must be borne by LightSquared.

“As users of GPS precision equipment in agricultural applications, we believe this additional testing is imperative,” said ASA First Vice President Steve Wellman, a farmer from Syracuse, Neb. “We need to know with certainty that any modifications and proposed solutions will work for new and existing precision agriculture equipment.”

Get in line, soy boys!

Interesting how LightSquared gave it a completely different spin

This week, we received a strong endorsement of our view that LightSquared and GPS can co-exist from several of the country’s leading agricultural organizations: the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sugar Alliance, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Farmers Union, National Potato Council and the Western Growers Association. These groups signed a joint letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture committees calling for them to work to ensure that the agricultural sector receives the benefits of LightSquared’s network alongside GPS. “We believe that both of these technologies have great potential to drive economic development in rural America and a reasonable agreement should be reached to allow for their future success,” the organizations wrote.

The soy boys aren’t endorsing you, so don’t interfere with GPS.

The PNT Took My L-band Baby Away

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Seems LightSquared has a problem on its hands, after a report (PDF) from the National PNT Systems Engineering Forum

Key Findings:

  • All GPS receiver applications impacted by proposed LightSquared Network
  • Simulation of fully deployed LightSquared network of ~40,000 base stations would:
    1. Degrade or result in loss of GPS function (ranging, position) at standoff distances ranging from few kilometers and extending to space operations
    2. Out of band emissions due to close proximity to GPS Band
    3. Appear to be satisfactory
  • No universal mitigation approach identified

Seriously, it’s not a good situation, according to Fierce Wireless

Jim Kirkland, vice president and general counsel at Trimble Navigation which has opposed LightSquared’s operations as currently designed, said the tests showed that LightSquared’s network clearly cause interference with GPS.

“There is not a solution here,” he said. “In our view, it’s time to stop squandering resources on this and look for alternative spectrum for this operation. What LightSquared is trying to do is a great thing. It’s very important that we have more competition in broadband and more spectrum in broadband wireless. However, there is one place in the satellite band where this does not work,” and that is the spectrum next to GPS, he said.

It gets worse. According to the WSJ blog post by Amy Schatz, the DoD, aviation and a swarm from Congress are signaling a rough go ahead…

A bipartisan group of 66 House members asked the FCC Tuesday to protect global positioning systems from interference from wireless broadband start-up LightSquared, which is trying to launch a new network.

LightSquared’s airwaves have been knocking out some GPS systems during recent tests in New Mexico, according to unofficial reports from GPS users.

The company has acknowledged the problem but says technological fixes are available. LightSquared and GPS makers are scheduled to file a joint report to the FCC on June 15 about any interference issues.

The aviation industry, Defense Department and other government agencies are worried that the new mobile broadband network’s planned 40,000 cell towers could interfere with highly precise GPS systems used in military, aviation and homeland security equipment. Federal officials and GPS industry advocates have been lobbying Congress heavily to pressure the FCC to resolve any interference issues before letting LightSquared turn on its service.

“We request that the Commission only approve LightSquared’s waiver (to offer service) if it can be indisputably proven that there will be no GPS interference,” the lawmakers wrote Tuesday. A bipartisan group of 34 Senators wrote a similar letter to the FCC last month.

By our count, the House letter was signed by 17 Democrats and 49 Republicans, including four committee chairman: House Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon of California, Science Space and Technology Chairman Ralph Hall of Texas, Small Business Chairman Sam Graves of Missouri and House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.

Like a challenge, rocket scientists? They’re hiring!