NBAA Welcomes FCC's Rejection of LightSquared Network, Protecting GPS

Washington, DC, February 15, 2012 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today applauded the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for pulling the plug on broadband communications startup LightSquared's plans for a nationwide wireless communications network, citing concerns over that network's interference with signals from Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

"We thank the FCC for taking this very important step," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. "More than 60 percent of business aircraft operating in the U.S. are equipped with various GPS capabilities required for instrument approaches at over 5,000 airports, and even more have en-route GPS capability. NBAA Members don't oppose new technology systems like the one proposed by LightSquared, as long as they don't compromise aviation safety by interfering with the GPS systems our Members rely on for navigation and communications.

"It's also worth noting," Bolen continued, "that protecting GPS isn't just a critical issue for the business aviation community – it is also relied upon by rescue workers, farmers, military operators, consumers and other users."

The FCC's rejection of LightSquared's plan follows a final recommendation, issued to federal regulators February 14 by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) – which is a joint panel comprised of nine federal agencies – saying NTIA "cannot support" further deployment of LightSquared's technology.

"...We conclude that LightSquared's proposed mobile broadband network will impact GPS services and that there is no practical way to mitigate the potential interference at this time," said U.S. Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Lawrence E. Strickling, in a letter, sent on behalf of the NTIA, to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

"Furthermore," Strickling's letter continues, "while GPS equipment developers may be able to mitigate these issues via new technology in the future, the time and money required for federal, commercial, and private sector users to replace the technology in the field and in the marketplace, on aircraft, and in integrated national security systems cannot support the scheduled deployment of terrestrial services proposed by LightSquared." Read the letter Strickling sent to the FCC on behalf of the NTIA.

FCC spokesperson Tammy Sun acknowledged NTIA's call for LightSquared's plans to be placed on indefinite hold.

"NTIA, the federal agency that coordinates spectrum uses for the military and other federal government entities, has now concluded that there is no practical way to mitigate potential interference at this time," read a statement from Sun, who added that the FCC's International Bureau intended to vacate the conditional waiver for LightSquared's application issued by the FCC in January 2011, before the results of tests demonstrating catastrophic interference with GPS receivers were widely known.

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