by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Jun 28, 2011
The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has approved action that would "fence" or halt the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from expending any funds related to a conditional waiver it granted a company called LightSquared until all concerns have been resolved about interference with Global Positioning System (GPS).
The amendment was passed in a unanimous voice vote by the full House Appropriations Committee. Observers reported that the vote was punctuated with a "loud" response - underscoring the growing Congressional concern about the harmful interference to GPS systems that will occur if the FCC moves ahead with approval of LightSquared's plans to deploy 40,000 ground stations.
The amendment was offered by U.S. Reps. Steve Austria (R-Ohio) and Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) and was part of the Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee's bill.
Commenting on the vote, Jim Kirkland, vice president and general counsel of Trimble, a founding member of the Coalition to Save Our GPS, said, "GPS is a vital national resource that is today fundamental to our economy, national security and to virtually every industry sector. Business, consumers and the government will be hobbled if the FCC proceeds on this path with LightSquared.
The vote today puts 'teeth' into legislation that will protect government and private GPS users from LightSquared's proposal."
Kirkland said Coalition members are highly appreciative of both the legislation and the many Members of Congress who have intervened to protect GPS from the damaging and debilitating interference that multiple tests have confirmed will occur if LightSquared's plans are allowed to proceed.
In a highly unusual process, the FCC early this year granted a conditional waiver to LightSquared, a Virginia-based company backed by a New York-based hedge fund, to develop spectrum immediately adjacent to the spectrum long used for GPS.
The legislation reads, "None of the funds made available in this Act may be used by the Federal Communications Commission to remove the conditions imposed on commercial terrestrial operations in the Order and Authorization adopted by the Commission on January 26, 2011 (DA 11-133), or otherwise permit such operations, until the Commission has resolved concerns of potential widespread harmful interference by such commercial terrestrial operations to commercially available Global Positioning System devices."
The "Coalition to Save Our GPS" is working to resolve a serious threat to the Global Positioning System. The FCC granted a highly unusual conditional waiver for a proposal to build 40,000 ground stations that could cause widespread interference with GPS signals - endangering a national utility which millions of Americans rely on every day. The conditional waiver was granted to a company called LightSquared.
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