GPS in Jeopardy

Global Positioning System navigation and timing signals, used widely both in the civilian and military sectors, are under threat from a new commercial broadband network, said Gen. William Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander, Thursday. The Federal Communications Commission recently issued a license to LightSquared—a company headquartered in Reston, Va.—granting this firm the right to produce a 4G broadband network that uses both satellites and ground sites, Shelton explained in remarks at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition in Orlando, Fla. The company’s business plan, he said, calls for roughly 40,000 towers to be built across the United States—mostly in urban areas where GPS is commonly used. Leading GPS manufacturers have concluded that the towers actually jam GPS signals that are within 12 miles of the towers, he said. “If we allow the system to be fielded, and it does indeed jam GPS, imagine the impact,” said Shelton. Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn recently sent a letter to the FCC addressing the military’s concerns with the deal, Shelton noted.