Public Safety Groups Concur with FCC Proposals to Withdraw LightSquared Waiver

APCO says it is “deeply troubled by LightSquared’s approach” in seeking declaratory ruling; Coalition files its comments on that ruling request

Washington, D.C. – Two major national public safety groups have filed comments with the FCC declaring that LightSquared’s plans would interfere with critical safety-of-life uses of GPS and concurring with the FCC’s proposals to withdraw LightSquared’s conditional waiver and prohibit it from building its proposed ground-based wireless network.

Both the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, Inc. (APCO) and the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) also said in FCC filings that their organizations oppose LightSquared’s December 20, 2011 petition seeking a declaratory ruling that commercially available GPS devices would not be protected against harmful interference caused by LightSquared’s ancillary terrestrial component (ATC) operations. Referring to that LightSquared request, APCO said it “is deeply troubled by LightSquared’s approach, as it appears to contradict the assurances that LightSquared had given to APCO and others that it would address interference to GPS receivers.”

The APCO and NPSTC filings this week occurred as the Coalition to Save Our GPS submitted its comments to the FCC on the LightSquared request for a declaratory ruling, urging that the FCC deny LightSquared’s request and saying LightSquared’s petition “again misrepresents history and the nature of LightSquared’s authority.”

The APCO filing said it had been “monitoring the LightSquared deployment plan with a concern that it could interfere with public safety and other critical GPS-related operations,” pointing out that GPS is essential to emergency communications and that public safety personnel “increasingly rely” on a GPS-enabled devices to “locate vehicles, personnel, and emergency locations.” APCO cited the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) finding that it had “concluded that LightSquared’s proposed mobile broadband network will impact GPS services and there currently is no practical way to mitigate the potential harmful interference,” saying that, “In light of the NTIA letter and other information on the record, APCO supports the Commission’s proposed actions.”

The NPSTC filing said in its comments that “NPSTC reaffirms the necessity to protect public safety reception and use of GPS signals,” and that its “goal in this proceeding has been and continues to be straightforward – to ensure that interference does not result to public safety related use of GPS.” The NPSTC filing said, “Testing done to date confirms significant interference problems will occur under the LightSquared proposal. Accordingly, NPSTC concurs with the Commission’s proposed action to vacate the previous Waiver Order and to modify LightSquared’s license.”

The NPSTC commented that “GPS is used for wireless 911 location, support of dispatch operations, mapping/response directions to responders, and synchronization of simulcast communications systems across the country. The nation cannot afford to risk interference that could debilitate the reception and/or accuracy of GPS signals used for public safety operations.”

About the organizations
APCO, founded in 1935, is the nation’s oldest and largest public safety communications organization. Most members are state or local government officials who manage and operate communications systems for police, fire, emergency medical, forestry conservation, highway maintenance, disaster relief and other public safety agencies.

NPSTC is a federation of public safety organizations whose mission is to improve public safety communications and interoperability through collaborative leadership. It acts as a resource and advocate for public safety telecommunications issues. In addition to a number of federal agencies that are liaison members, as well as liaison relationships with a range of other telecommunications organizations, these organizations participate in NPSTC: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Radio Relay League, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, Forestry Conservation Communications Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, International Association of Emergency Managers, International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Municipal Signal Association, National Association of State Chief Information Officers, National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials, National Association of State Foresters, National Association of State Technology Directors, National Emergency Number Association, and the National Sheriffs’ Association.