ALEXANDRIA, Va., February 16, 2012 - Recreational boaters who rely on
global positioning devices to keep them safely on course can breathe a
sigh of relief since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
announced plans on Tuesday, February 14 to revoke conditional approval
of a proposed cellular telephone network that could interfere with GPS
signals. The decision came after the U.S. Commerce Department advised
the Commission that "At this time there are no mitigation strategies"
that could prevent interference with GPS signals if the cell phone
network planned by a private company, LightSquared, were to be built as
"This is a significant development for all GPS users," said BoatUS
President Margaret Podlich. "The FCC, as America's guardian of our
airwaves, needs to protect the integrity of the GPS system. It is one of
the most important, reliable, and critical elements in navigation today
- on boats, in the air, and on land."
According to Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS),
many boat owners use GPS chartplotters or carry hand-held GPS units -
essentially electronic maps - to safely navigate and steer clear of
shoals and other hazards, sometimes in unfamiliar waters. Last summer,
BoatUS mounted a campaign to slow down the federal approval process
until adequate testing could be done. BoatUS' "Don't Mess With GPS"
campaign delivered over 18,000 comments to the FCC from concerned
boaters all across the country.
LightSquared had originally asked the FCC for permission to build
40,000 cell phone ground stations across the country that would expand
broadband cellular telephone service. In a February 14 letter to the
FCC, the National Telecommunication and Information Administration said
tests indicate that the network would "...cause harmful interference to
the majority of general navigation GPS receivers tested," and in
addition, noted that "handset transmissions have the potential to impact
General Navigation GPS receivers."
"While the news is positive for America's boaters, we aren't out of
the woods yet," added Podlich. The FCC is hosting a 15-day comment
period ending March 1 to solicit feedback on their plans to revoke
LightSquared's conditional permit. "In the next few days we will be
looking at options for gaining GPS users' input on the issue and will
post this information at www.BoatUS.com/Gov."
- BoatUS - Boat Owners Association of The United States -
is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters providing over
half a million members with government representation, programs and
money-saving services. For membership information visit www.BoatUS.com or call 800-395-2628.