BoatUS says GPS navigational aid is in jeopardy

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The future reliability of the GPS system across the United States is in question, according to BoatUS, because of a proposal by a private company to use radio frequency bandwidth next to existing GPS radio bandwidth.

BoatUS said boaters could have a hard time avoiding treacherous shoals or finding their way home if GPS signals are interfered with, and the group is urging them to speak out during a 30-day comment period.

“This is a remarkably short comment period for an issue that has such dire consequences for America’s boaters and every other GPS user in the country,” BoatUS vice president of government affairs Margaret Podlich said in a statement.

At issue is an unusual conditional waiver the Federal Communications Commission gave in January to a broadband wireless communications provider, LightSquared, to permit the expansion of land-based use of mobile satellite spectrum. This spectrum, or frequency bandwidth, is directly adjacent to the frequencies used for GPS communications.

A new report requested by the FCC says, “All phases of the LightSquared deployment plan will result in widespread harmful interference to GPS signals and service and that mitigation is not possible.”

Recreational boaters lost their only other viable navigation system, Loran, when the federal Department of Homeland Security shut the system down last year.

BoatUS is urging boaters and other GPS users to speak up now by clicking here to send comments to the FCC and their members of Congress.

Comments are due by July 30.


6 comments on “BoatUS says GPS navigational aid is in jeopardy

  1. Dwight

    This will have dire consequences for boaters as the article states. I am in the boating industry and am an avid boater. My lake for instance, is 65 miles by 55 miles in size with 14,500 islands and 65,000 miles of shoreline. It is littered with rocks and reefs. With there being fewer and fewer buoys in most Canadian lakes the need for accurate navigational equipment is becoming greater and greater. A move such as this not only will cause damage to vessels but also be a danger to boaters.

  2. Pat O'Neal

    I object to this latest example of the US Government allocating its resources preferentially to narrow entities in lieu of addressing the wider public interest. This looks like another example of government for sale to private interests.

  3. Charles A Worst

    I am concerned about the proposal for use of the adjacent frequencies to our GPS navigation system. When the GPS system was initially activated, the US military was the primary user and the general public was considered secondary. I’m sure the military forces will have much to say about potential interference in the only electronic navigation system that we have. What tests have been made to determine if there will be GPS signal degradation? Is the US military aware of the proposal? What about the countless industries that use GPS on a daily basis? This issue is of extreme importance to the US and the world. It must be thoroughly investigated.

  4. seifsail

    GPS is used for so much more than marine that I doubt the FAA or military would permit any degradation of the signal

  5. Industry Worker

    Do some research on LightSquared and its money folks. A few simple google searches will tell you all you need to know. This is a done deal and our saftey is of no concern to FCC!

  6. Joanne

    Several years ago, a independent group concluded eloran was well suited as backup to GPS. The US, was in line to upgrade their existing LORAN stations to do just that. This new administration changed all that in an instant. Many other countries understand the importance of a backup system and are upgrading their existing systems. These countries realize the benefits eloran brings and it has more than navigational applications it has realtime applications. The US needs to reverse the shutting down of LORAN and return to the original plan to upgrade to eloran.

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