Coalition to Save Our GPS Response to Today's Misleading LightSquared Claims


The following can be attributed to Jim Kirkland, Vice President & General Counsel of Trimble, a founding member of the Coalition to Save Our GPS.

“LightSquared today has yet again oversimplified and greatly overstated the significance of the claims of vendors to have ‘solved’ the interference issue.  There have been many vendor claims that have not proven out in rigorous tests and the demanding tests of marketplace acceptance.  Further, this is not a one-size-fits-all situation and a few prototypes developed ‘in a matter of weeks’ does not a solution make. The estimated 750,000 to 1 million high-precision GPS receivers now in use in the United States vary widely: there are hundreds of different high-precision devices used in performing thousands of different tasks. High-precision GPS supports a wide variety of uses, including agriculture, construction, aviation, surveying and many scientific and safety-of-life applications. 

“Mr. Harriman is confused; the GPS industry never said it would take ten years and billions of dollars to develop a solution that could accommodate LightSquared’s use of the lower band.  It was the Department of Defense that said that even if there was a proven equipment solution for interference, it would take billions of dollars and ten years to implement any such solution, given all of the complex and critical systems in which GPS equipment is embedded. The FAA has said the same about aviation uses, which prevent aviation accidents and save lives. This is true of other government and private uses of GPS – the cost of new equipment is a small portion of the cost of implementing a solution in the complex systems that control critical safety of life and productivity functions.  The $50 million LightSquared has said it would pay the federal government for device replacement is obviously a mere sliver of the many billions of dollars the changes are expected to cost the federal government if LightSquared’s plans are allowed to go through.

“Mr. Harriman also ignores that any new equipment solution, even if proven, will not solve interference to hundreds of thousands of existing precision devices in the hands of farmers, small businesses and others. If and when actual solutions are available, LightSquared must accept responsibility for paying to replace the existing base of existing equipment with new product – a responsibility LightSquared is shirking. The costs of replacement are not fully known since a solution has not yet been proven, but it would likely be in the billions.

“In any case, the FCC and NTIA have directed that LightSquared’s planned deployment undergo further tests. The claims of Mr. Harriman, and his vendors, can be verified as part of that process, which is largely designed to test interference problems Mr. Harriman apparently thinks are already ‘solved.’ LightSquared has been wrong repeatedly in the past in its claims that it has solved the problem  – this is its third proposal just this year – so these most recent claims clearly need to be verified. It’s worth noting that LightSquared both yesterday and today has gone out of its way to say that its plans have undergone the most ‘extensive’ tests in FCC history. LightSquared neglects to say that that’s because its assurances that its earlier plans would not cause interference to GPS were flat out wrong.

“Mr. Harriman today repeats the highly misleading LightSquared statement that GPS signals are ‘looking into our spectrum.’ In fact, the reason high-precision receivers suffer interference that LightSquared can’t solve is that they were designed to take advantage of commercial satellite services LightSquared, its predecessors, and Inmarsat have offered that are used to improve the precision of these receivers.”