BoatUS says GPS navigational aid is in jeopardy

Published online: Jul 14, 2011 News Trade Only Today
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The future reliability of the GPS system across the United States is in question, according to BoatUS, because of a proposal by a private company to use radio frequency bandwidth next to existing GPS radio bandwidth.

BoatUS said boaters could have a hard time avoiding treacherous shoals or finding their way home if GPS signals are interfered with, and the group is urging them to speak out during a 30-day comment period.

"This is a remarkably short comment period for an issue that has such dire consequences for America's boaters and every other GPS user in the country," BoatUS vice president of government affairs Margaret Podlich said in a statement.

At issue is an unusual conditional waiver the Federal Communications Commission gave in January to a broadband wireless communications provider, LightSquared, to permit the expansion of land-based use of mobile satellite spectrum. This spectrum, or frequency bandwidth, is directly adjacent to the frequencies used for GPS communications.

A new report requested by the FCC says, "All phases of the LightSquared deployment plan will result in widespread harmful interference to GPS signals and service and that mitigation is not possible."

Recreational boaters lost their only other viable navigation system, Loran, when the federal Department of Homeland Security shut the system down last year.

BoatUS is urging boaters and other GPS users to speak up now by clicking here to send comments to the FCC and their members of Congress.

Comments are due by July 30.

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