LETTER: Missourians benefit from the LightSquared initiative

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 4:52 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 15, 2011

As a concerned citizen in central Missouri, I would like to support the LightSquared initiative to bring broadband to 92 percent of the United States by 2015.

As a mid-Missouri resident and owner of a vacation home at Lake of the Ozarks, living on the wrong side of the digital divide is not only frustrating, it is senseless. Our family is unable to check e-mail for work or keep up with current events at our vacation home because of the lack of reliable or affordable Internet service.

I encourage our elected leaders in Washington, D.C., to figure out a way for divergent interests to hammer out a win-win solution on the GPS v. LightSquared debate. Rural Missourians should not have to make a choice between GPS and broadband.

All Missourians — in urban and rural areas alike — deserve to benefit from LightSquared's innovative technology.

We should all ask Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill and our congressional delegation to help find a solution where GPS and LightSquared can peacefully co-exist.

Hannelore Fischer works in Jefferson City.

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John Schultz July 13, 2011 | 9:51 a.m.

Well as best as I can figure out, LightSquared's proposed satellite network could cause interference with some GPS devices since the frequencies are near one another. The FCC generally considers that a bad thing except for certain hardware (part 15 if my recollection of equipment stickers is correct). Is this letter basically saying screw you GPS users, I need my wireless Internet regardless?

(Report Comment)
Atom Smith July 13, 2011 | 2:20 p.m.

The LightSquared people made a fatal error. Their choice of a frequency band that interferes with GPS signals, throughout the area of deployment, was a massive error. LightSquare’s error also highlights the inherent vulnerability of GPS and the risk of overreliance.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking July 13, 2011 | 2:46 p.m.

I believe that GPS only uses two frequencies, and they transmit short bursts of data at intervals, so more than one satellite can share the same frequency.

GPS is very bandwidth-frugal, where a high-speed Internet satellite carrier is likely to use thousands of times the bandwidth (in this context bandwidth means frequency spread, or the width of the band of frequencies required to transmit all the data. Google "Hartley's law" for more details). I'd think that LightSquared could accomodate two measly 500 Hz wide frequencies with enough frequency space on either side to not disrupt GPS. Just move the carrier frequencies a little. Ham operators do it all the time.


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