The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports on LightSquared’s plan to create a new cell- and satellite-phone system, a local story for the paper since Minnesota-born billionaire Philip Falcone is behind the company and Best Buy has agreed to sell the service. Manufacturers and other companies are concerned that LightSquared’s approach will interfere with Global Positioning System devices that are so critical to transportation, supply chains and consumer products.
GPS and LightSquared are in adjacent parts of the electromagnetic spectrum,” said Brian Raymond, director of technology policy for the National Association of Manufacturers in Washington, D.C. That could cause GPS signals to be “drowned out” within 4 miles of a LightSquared tower, he said. For aircraft, the interference extends as high as 12 miles above a tower, he said.
As a result, the GPS industry opposes LightSquared through a group called the “Coalition to Save Our GPS,” and has received verbal support from the U.S. Air Force Space Command that operates the GPS satellites. About 500 million GPS units are in use in the United States, the coalition said. GPS chips are widely used in smartphones, but also are used in industrial equipment as varied as aircraft and farm tractors and in cars and boats.
The NAM is a member of the Coalition to Save Our GPS.