Concerns have been raised by Bill Lynn, the Deputy Defense Secretary, to the Federal Communications Commission about a new technology which jams GPS signals, both military and civilian, that is being used by a company named LightSquared. It is evident that the worries of Pentagon are also shared by the Federal Aviation Administration. These concerns of the FAA and the Pentagon were recently disclosed by the Head of Air Force Space Command Air Force Gen. William Shelton at the winter conference of the Air Force Association. He spoke to the reporters at the conference saying that an anonymous GPS company had found during the testing of its equipment that the towers built by LightSquared for generating a wireless 4G network jammed the reception of the GPS signals completely.
The company had recently been granted a conditional license by the FCC so that it could start building its wireless network on the L-band spectrum, which lies adjacent to the GPS signal spectrum, according to Shelton. One of the requirements of the conditional license is that LightSquared should prove that its network does not jam the other signals. The company had also been advised by the FCC to work in collaboration with the GPS industry and the federal government in a working group to try and solve the problem of jammed signals.
The crux of the problem arises from the fact that the strength of the GPS signals diminishes a lot in the process of coming down to the earth from the satellite, and the strong waves of the network overwhelm these signals. The concerns of the aviation industry can be well understood in the light of the FAA planning to bring in a new GPS based air traffic control system as the airplanes will lose the GPS guidance signals within a 12 mile radius of any of LightSquared’s towers, and the compny is planning to build thousands of these.