The Air Transport Association of America (ATA) has called upon Congress to protect the nation’s global positioning system (GPS) from being obstructed by LightSquared, a 4G open broadband network. After all, the ATA maintains, any interference from the network could severely delay the deployment of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen.
Testifying before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, ATA Senior Vice President for Safety, Security and Operations Tom Hendricks expressed his concern about the LightSquared network.
“If the [Federal Communications Commission] is determined to allow LightSquared to launch its wireless broadband network, the agency should find alternative spectrum that will not compromise the GPS network,” Hendricks maintained. “Congress must ensure that there is no interference with GPS from wireless broadband deployment.”
Although the ATA is quick to point out that it supports the development of broadband service, it said that the technology proposed by LightSquared would incapacitate the GPS.
This argument is strengthened by RTCA research. In fact, the aviation advisory panel found that LightSquared would negate the effects of GPS at altitudes below 2,000 feet in cities with a single network and in busy metropolitan areas.
To Hendricks, this is sufficient reason to block the widespread deployment of LightSqured. “We strongly oppose any proposed service that would compromise the integrity of the GPS system,” he said in a statement. “Given that nearly 6,000 commercial aircraft and tens of thousands of business and general-aviation aircraft are GPS-equipped, the continued unimpeded use of GPS is indispensable to the future of aviation.”