2011 Press Releases

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NBAA Welcomes Sen. Roberts' Amendment to Halt LightSquared Funding

Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360, [email protected] 

Washington, DC, November 18, 2011 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today welcomed a legislative amendment from Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) to a funding bill that would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from spending federal funds to deploy LightSquared's 4G broadband technology, until it can be proven the technology will not interfere with global positioning system (GPS) receivers.

"There is too much at stake in interfering with a tool we all use, and on which our public safety and national security depend so heavily," said Roberts. "The FCC must be involved in this process, and the commissioners must require an objective demonstration of non-interference before LightSquared's system gets the go-ahead. GPS is too important for any interference to be tolerated."

"The business aviation community thanks Senator Roberts for introducing this important amendment," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. "[NBAA] members are not opposed to the development and deployment of new or improved technology systems like LightSquared – as long as it is conclusively proven that it will not result in radio interference with GPS systems or pose any threat to the global aviation transportation system."

The amendment is expected to be offered for inclusion in the Financial Services and Government Affairs Appropriations Bill now before the Senate. That legislation mirrors a companion measure approved by the House of Representatives earlier this year, and comes amidst continually growing opposition to the conditional waiver granted by the FCC earlier this year for LightSquared to build 40,000 transmitters across the country for terrestrial deployment of its proposed broadband wireless network. 

The agency suspended that waiver after industry tests revealed overwhelming evidence that LightSquared's network interfered with weaker GPS signals on adjacent frequencies, and it is now deliberating on its next move. The FCC's decision on whether to reinstate the waiver could come by the end of November. Roberts' amendment is the latest move by lawmakers to ensure the agency preserves the GPS signal.

As NBAA reported, in early November, a letter sent by House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-6-MO) and eight other lawmakers implored FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to halt further action in granting LightSquared's waiver, despite the company's assertions the problem could be resolved for "99 percent of the GPS users" by moving its signal to a frequency further away from bandwidth used by GPS, or through deployment of signal filters for new and existing receivers. Graves countered that LightSquared's claims were "not an acceptable answer or solution for general aviation."

Separately, with the clock ticking down on what could be the FCC's final response to the LightSquared issue, the Coalition to Save our GPS, of which NBAA is a member, recently issued a release marking the one-year anniversary of the company's original petition to the agency to allow deployment of a high-powered, ground-based wireless network on bandwidth previously allocated for Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) use. LightSquared filed for its waiver on November 18, 2010.

For more information on the issue, visit http://www.nbaa.org/ops/cns/gps/interference.

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 8,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world's largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.

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