Mobile

Uh oh, LightSquared’s network is screwing with GPS

New government tests conducted by two separate agencies have concluded that LightSquared‘s mobile broadband network interferes with the signal on all GPS devices.

The news doesn’t bode well for the Virginia-based wireless startup company, which needs the Federal Communication Commission’s approval to launch its LTE mobile broadband network. LightSquared’s business model relies on selling wholesale access to its network to outside companies.

Devices that use GPS technology like mobile phones, General Motors’ OnStar emergency response receivers, turn-based navigation units like Garmin, and airplanes would all be affected by LightSquared’s network.

GPS receivers either lost signal strength or were completely disabled by LightSquared’s signal within the testing zone, according to tests conducted by National Space-Based PNT Advisory Board in May. A separate test conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration found that GPS would be unavailable to aircraft flying below elevations of 2,000 feet in metro areas — like airports, for instance.

Results from both sets of tests were presented Thursday during a federal government advisory group hearing.

The company acknowledges the GPS interference problems and is committed to finding a solution, Lightsquared Executive Vice President Jeffrey Carlisle told the Wall Street Journal. However, those solutions would likely be expensive for both the company and GPS device makers and could take years to complete.

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