Broadband :: GPS
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The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a U.S. space-based radionavigation system that provides reliable positioning, navigation, and timing services to civilian users on a continuous worldwide basis -- freely available to all. For anyone with a GPS receiver, the system will provide location and time. GPS provides accurate location and time information for an unlimited number of people in all weather, day and night, anywhere in the world.
The GPS is made up of three parts: satellites orbiting the Earth; control and monitoring stations on Earth; and the GPS receivers owned by users. GPS satellites broadcast signals from space that are picked up and identified by GPS receivers. Each GPS receiver then provides three-dimensional location (latitude, longitude, and altitude) plus the time.
Individuals may purchase GPS handsets that are readily available through commercial retailers. Equipped with these GPS receivers, users can accurately locate where they are and easily navigate to where they want to go, whether walking, driving, flying, or boating. GPS has become a mainstay of transportation systems worldwide, providing navigation for aviation, ground, and maritime operations. Disaster relief and emergency services depend upon GPS for location and timing capabilities in their life-saving missions. Everyday activities such as banking, mobile phone operations, and even the control of power grids, are facilitated by the accurate timing provided by GPS. Farmers, surveyors, geologists and countless others perform their work more efficiently, safely, economically, and accurately using the free and open GPS signals.
What is GPS?
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a U.S.-owned utility that provides users with positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) services. This system consists of three segments: the space segment, the control segment, and the user segment. The U.S. Air Force develops, maintains, and operates the space and control segments.
The space segment consists of a nominal constellation of 24 operating satellites that transmit one-way signals that give the current GPS satellite position and time.
The control segment consists of worldwide monitor and control stations that maintain the satellites in their proper orbits through occasional command maneuvers, and adjust the satellite clocks. It tracks the GPS satellites, uploads updated navigational data, and maintains health and status of the satellite constellation.
The user segment consists of the GPS receiver equipment, which receives the signals from the GPS satellites and uses the transmitted information to calculate the user's three-dimensional position and time.
What is LightSquared?
LightSquared Subsidiary LLC is a company that plans to provide a wholesale, nationwide 4G-LTE wireless broadband network integrated with satellite coverage.
LightSquared will combine existing mobile satellite communications services (formerly known as SkyTerra) with a ground-based wireless communications network that uses the same L-band radio spectrum as the satellites.
On January 26, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an Order and Authorization giving LightSquared conditional approval to build out its ground-based wireless network (referred to as an ancillary terrestrial component, ATC) by reusing its authorized mobile satellite service (MSS) spectrum. The approval is subject to further testing and FCC review (see below).
Why is the GPS community concerned?
The base stations of the LightSquared network will transmit signals in a radio band immediately adjacent to the GPS frequencies. The GPS community is concerned because testing has shown that LightSquared's ground-based transmissions overpower the relatively weak GPS signal from space. Although LightSquared will operate in its own radio band, that band is so close to the GPS signals that most GPS devices pick up the stronger LightSquared signal and become overloaded or jammed.
There is also concern that the FCC may approve a technical solution to the problem that requires millions of existing GPS users to upgrade or replace their devices.
What is being done to address the concerns?
In its Order and Authorization, the FCC required that LightSquared create a working group with the GPS community "to address interference concerns regarding GPS and, further, that this [working group] process must be completed to the Commission’s satisfaction before LightSquared commences offering commercial service." LightSquared committed $20 million to the working group and worked closely with the U.S. GPS Industry Council and other participants to complete interference testing.
The FCC ordered LightSquared to file monthly progress reports and a final report due June 15, 2011. On June 15, LightSquared requested and the FCC approved an extension of the deadline to July 1, 2011. They submitted their final report on June 30, 2011, along with a separate document providing their recommendation to the FCC. The FCC opened a 30-day public comment period on the report and recommendations, with a comment deadline of July 30, 2011.
LightSquared cannot commence commercial operations of its terrestrial network until the FCC, "after consultation with NTIA [National Telecommunications and Information Administration], concludes that harmful interference concerns have been resolved and sends a letter to LightSquared stating that the process is complete."
Independent of the FCC-ordered study, the government's National Space-Based PNT Systems Engineering Forum (NPEF) conducted its own testing of the potential interference to military and civilian GPS users from LightSquared's terrestrial network. The NPEF completed its report on June 1, 2011; the unclassified public version was released July 6, 2011.
What is the Executive Branch position on this issue?
The government GPS community is working closely with LightSquared and the U.S. spectrum regulators to ensure that GPS users are protected from interference and unnecessary re-equipage. The U.S. Government continues to support the President's National Broadband Plan and facilitate its implementation consistent with the preservation of national and economic security.
Federal agencies have conducted extensive technical studies to understand the interference effects and seek potential mitigations. Their initial analysis is complete and was provided to the FCC through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The results clearly demonstrate that implementing LightSquared's planned deployment for terrestrial operations poses a significant potential for harmful interference to GPS services.
Prior to the FCC Order and Authorization of January 2011, the National Coordination Office and multiple federal agencies expressed concern about potential GPS interference from LightSquared. On behalf of the Executive Branch, NTIA sent a letter to the FCC stating that the LightSquared proposal raised "significant interference concerns that warrant full evaluation" to ensure that federal agencies' use of GPS is not adversely impacted.
On July 6, 2011, the NTIA Administrator sent another letter to the FCC stating that, based on the government testing and analysis, his earlier concerns about GPS interference remain unresolved. He recommended that the FCC continue to withhold authorization for LightSquared to commence commercial operations. NTIA, in coordination with federal agencies, is still reviewing the LightSquared working group test results and will continue to consult with the FCC.
"For your consideration in the above-references matter, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) submits the attached report entitled, Assessment of Lightsquared Terrestrial Broadband System Effects on GPS Receivers and GPS Dependent Applications (June 1, 2001), prepared by the National space-based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Systems Engineering Forum (NBEF) on behalf of the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (EXCOM). The results of these measurements clearly demonstrate that implementing the LightSquared Subsidiary LLC (Lightsquared) planned deployment for terrestrial operations poses a significant potential for harmful interference to Global Positioning System (GPS) services. Thus, the concerns stated in my letter to you dated January 12, 2011, remain unresolved."
Released: 06/30/2011. COMMENT DEADLINES ESTABLISHED REGARDING THE GPS-LIGHTSQUARED TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP REPORT. (DA No. 11-1133). (Dkt No 11-109 ). IB . Contact: karl.kensinger TXT
Comments Due: 07/30/2011. Reply Comments Due: 08/15/2011. Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS. COMMENT DEADLINES ESTABLISHED REGARDING THE GPS-LIGHTSQUARED TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP REPORT, FCC 7/5/2011. "On June 30, 2011, LightSquared Subsidiary LLC (LightSquared) submitted a final report of the technical working group co-chaired by LightSquared and the United States Global Positioning System (GPS) Industry Council (USGIC)1 and organized in response to a condition in FCC Order and Authorization, DA 11-133 (released January 26, 2011).2 The condition required that LightSquared help organize and participate in a technical working group "that brings LightSquared and the GPS community together" to address potential interference issues recently raised by members of the GPS community.3 The Order "envision[ed] a working group in which cooperative and candid discussions can ensue, and where information, including proprietary information, can be shared among the participants with appropriate measures in place to protect the confidentiality of that information."4 The condition required submission of a final report that includes the working group's analyses of the potential for overload interference to GPS devices from LightSquared's terrestrial network of base stations, technical and operational steps to avoid any such interference, and specific recommendations going forward to mitigate potential interference to GPS devices. Among other things,5 the Order also made clear that, "as a condition of granting this waiver, the [working group] process . . . addressing the interference concerns regarding GPS must be completed to the Commission's satisfaction before LightSquared commences offering commercial service pursuant to this waiver on its L-band MSS frequencies.""
The technical working group effort identified significant technical issues related to potential LightSquared operations in the upper portion of the L-Band, which is most proximate to the band used by GPS. Over more than three months, the technical working group tested more than 130 representative devices in seven different receiver categories, in a number of different test environments. The tests demonstrated potentially significant interference between LightSquared operations in the upper portion of the band and various GPS receivers. The tests also identified some interference issues in the lower 10 MHz portion of the band. The overall conclusion of the testing is that transmissions in the upper 10 MHz channel -the channel nearest to the 1559-1610 MHz GPS band - will adversely affect the performance of a significant number of legacy GPS receivers.
In addition to the technical working group report, LightSquared has submitted its recommendations to address the problems identified by the working group.7 In particular, LightSquared indicates its willingness to: (1) operate at lower power than permitted by its existing FCC authorization; (2) agree to a "standstill" in the terrestrial use of its Upper 10 MHz frequencies immediately adjacent to the GPS band; and (3) commence terrestrial commercial operations only on the lower 10 MHz portion of its spectrum and to coordinate and share the cost of underwriting a workable solution for the small number of legacy precision measurement devices that may be at risk. We specifically invite comment on these recommendations, including any alternative proposals to enable these two important services - GPS devices and L-band mobile broadband - to co-exist. We also welcome comments on the technical working group report generally. Comments should be filed no later than July 30, 2011, and reply comments by August 15, 2011.
01-26-11 LightSquared Subsidiary LLC Granted LightSquared Subsidiary LLC, a Mobile Satellite Service licensee in the L-Band, a conditional waiver of the Ancillary Terrestrial Component "integrated service" rule Acrobat | Word
Quoting from the order:
GPS-Related Interference Concerns
Several commenters raise concerns about potential interference to GPS receivers and other devices that may result from operation of LightSquared's base stations, while LightSquared asserts that it continues to meet its obligations with regard to addressing interference concerns. NTIA also expresses concern that LightSquared's services could adversely impact GPS and other GNSS receivers, and asks that the Commission address these inference issues before interference occurs. We emphasize that any potential interference to GPS is a significant concern, and note that the Spectrum Task Force at the Commission recently established an internal technical working group dedicated to examining this issue.
The U.S. GPS Industry Council proposes that NTIA, working with industry and government technical experts, examine the potential for interference within a reasonable time frame, not to exceed 90 days. In its letter, NTIA states that, if the Commission grants LightSquared's request, the Commission should establish a process that will ensure the interference issues are resolved prior to LightSquared's offering service that could cause interference, and that will motivate all parties to move expeditiously and in good faith to resolve the issues. NTIA further states that it stands ready to work with the Commission, LightSquared, and affected parties and concerned Federal agencies to address these interference concerns. More recently, LightSquared states that it takes the concerns raised by the GPS community about possible overload of GPS devices by LightSquared's base stations very seriously, and that it is appropriate for interested parties to devote resources to a solution as soon as possible. LightSquared professes confidence that the issues can be resolved without delaying deployment of its network. At the same time, in order to address the concerns raised, LightSquared states that it would accept, as a condition of the grant of its request, the creation of a process to address interference concerns regarding GPS and, further, that this process must be completed to the Commission's satisfaction before LightSquared commences offering commercial service, pursuant to the approval of its request, on its L-Band MSS frequencies. Further, LightSquared commits to working diligently and cooperatively with the Commission, NTIA and the Federal agencies, and the GPS community to help resolve the interference issues through a rigorous process that can address these issues in a comprehensive manner.
We agree on the need to address the potential interference concerns regarding GPS as LightSquared moves forward with plans to deploy and commence commercial operations on its network. Further, we believe that establishing a working group that brings LightSquared and the GPS community together to address these interference issues expeditiously would serve the public interest. We envision a working group in which cooperative and candid discussions can ensue, and where information, including proprietary information, can be shared among the participants with appropriate measures in place to protect the confidentiality of that information. Commission staff will work with NTIA, LightSquared, and the GPS community, including appropriate Federal agencies, to establish a working group to fully study the potential for overload interference to GPS devices and to identify any measures necessary to prevent harmful interference to GPS. As a condition of granting this waiver, the process described below addressing the interference concerns regarding GPS must be completed to the Commission's satisfaction before LightSquared commences offering commercial service pursuant to this waiver on its L-band MSS frequencies.
As an additional condition of granting this waiver, we require LightSquared to help organize and fully participate in the working group described above. The working group shall focus on analyzing a variety of types of GPS devices for their susceptibility to overload interference from LightSquared's terrestrial network of base stations, identifying near-term technical and operational measures that can be implemented to reduce the risk of overload interference to GPS devices, and providing recommendations on steps that can be taken going forward to permit broadband wireless services to be provided in the L-Band MSS frequencies and coexist with GPS devices. Because the GPS interference concerns stem from LightSquared's transmissions in its authorized spectrum rather than transmissions in the GPS band, the Commission expects full participation by the GPS industry in the working group and expects the GPS industry to work expeditiously and in good faith with LightSquared to ameliorate the interference concerns.
Further, we require that LightSquared submit an initial report to the FCC and NTIA by February 25, 2011, that includes a work plan outlining key milestones for the overall analyses. In addition, LightSquared must submit progress reports on the 15th day of each succeeding month or first business day thereafter. The first of these reports must at a minimum include base station transmitter characteristics, categories of GPS devices and their representative performance characteristics, and test plans and procedures. LightSquared is further required to submit a final report no later than June 15, 2011, that includes the working group's analyses of the potential for overload interference to GPS devices from LightSquared's terrestrial network of base stations, technical and operational steps to avoid such interference, and specific recommendations going forward to mitigate potential interference to GPS devices. The Bureau reserves the right to adjust the reporting dates and requirements in consultation with NTIA. The process will be complete once the Commission, after consultation with NTIA, concludes that the harmful interference concerns have been resolved and sends a letter to LightSquared stating that the process is complete.
GPS receivers are used for many types of applications ranging from synchronizing base stations in wireless networks to location-based services involving consumer devices such as wireless handsets and personal navigation devices.
LightSquared Reply Comments at 19-21 . LightSquared also notes that it and its predecessor MSV have entered into multiple agreements with the U.S. GPS Industry Council to address concerns about potential interference. Id. at 19-20.
NTIA Letter at 1.
U.S. GPS Industry Council January 7, 2011 Ex Parte at 2 (arguing that LightSquared's application not be granted until this analysis is transmitted to the Commission).
NTIA Letter at 1.
NTIA Letter at 1.
Letter from Sanjiv Ahuja, Chairman and CEO of LightSquared, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission (filed Jan. 21, 2011) (LightSquared January 21 Ex Parte Letter) at 1. We note that LightSquared previously has met with NTIA officials regarding establishment of an industry working group.
LightSquared January 21 Ex Parte Letter at 1.
LightSquared January 21 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
The conditions adopted herein do not affect LightSquared's obligation to meet the buildout commitments established in the SkyTerra/Harbinger Order.
LIGHTSQUARED SUBSIDIARY LLC. Set forth the FCC's International Bureau's and Office of Engineering and Technology's expectations for LightSquared's implementation of the working group condition. Action by: Chief, International Bureau and Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology. Adopted: 02/25/2011 by LETTER. (DA No. 11-367). IB TXT NTIA letter to the FCC regarding LightSquared's application to modify its authority to provide mobile-satellite service/ancillary terrestrial component (MSS/ATC) service. (PDF 327 KB) Posted January 12, 2011 LightSquared Statement on the Federal Communications Commission Conditional Waiver of the Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) Integrated Service Rule ("To assure that its rollout of full commercial service will satisfy the concerns about the possibility of inadvertent harmful interference to certain GPS devices, LightSquared pledges a diligent effort to work with all interested parties in an open and comprehensive process to address those concerns.")
"The Committee is aware that NTIA and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are in the midst of a regulatory process with respect to the Global Positioning System and that a technical working group is reviewing potential interference issues. NTIA is directed to report to the Committee following completion of the technical working group activities, but no later than August 1, 2011, regarding the discoveries of this technical working group and the scientific steps necessary to address any potential interference concerns."