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Innovation and Engineering Solve GPS Issue

By Martin Harriman, Former Executive Vice President of Ecosystem Development and Satellite Business
November 4, 2011

In the last few weeks, several innovative companies have stepped forward with multiple solutions to LightSquared’s interference problems with GPS. These announcements, from Javad GNSS, Partron America and PCTEL Inc., fundamentally undermine claims by our critics that the interference issue can’t be fixed.

We have already solved the problem on our own for the vast majority of GPS users by moving to new frequencies. Back in June, we announced we would move our operations as far as possible from GPS. That move resolved the potential interference issue for more than 99 percent of all GPS devices including GPS-enabled cell phones and the navigation system in your car.

But even after our commitment to move to a new spectrum band, there was still a lingering problem with high precision GPS devices which are used in agriculture, surveying and construction. The interference issue with high precision devices is rooted in the GPS industry’s decision to sell devices that depend on crossing into spectrum that is licensed to LightSquared. Even though we’re not responsible for creating the problem, we are working with these companies to solve it.

When LightSquared asked the leading companies in GPS technology to work on the problem, they discovered that they could solve it quickly and cheaply. In just a matter of weeks, Partron developed a $6 component that would eliminate the problem for most high precision receivers. Javad came up with its own LightSquared-compliant receiver and PCTEL built a new antenna that is compatible with our network. These solutions will help the GPS industry make the transition to an environment where LightSquared is deploying its network and provide a path toward future-proofing high precision GPS devices.

So the question really has never been whether or not the interference issue could be solved. The GPS industry knew all along it could. They just didn’t want to pay for their faulty design. LightSquared has already invested more than $150 million in finding solutions to this issue. Now it’s time for the GPS industry to do its part by funding their share of the solution for high precision devices through a standard product recall.

I look forward to sharing more on this issue at the National Space-Based PNT Advisory Board Meeting on Wednesday, November 9.

Martin Harriman is the former executive vice president of ecosystem development and satellite business.

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