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Letter to the Honorable Julius Genachowski, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission

Johnson Asks FCC to Ensure GPS Remains Strong in South Dakota
Contact: Perry Plumart, 202-224-1638

U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure that the Global Positioning System (GPS) is reliable for South Dakotans as work continues across the country to expand our nation's wireless broadband capabilities. GPS is not only critical for public safety and education services, but up to 80 percent of South Dakota farmers use the technology.

"South Dakotans use GPS in everything from cars and cell phones to farming equipment and 911 services. The stakes are too high to risk disruptions to this technology," said Johnson. "I want the FCC to make clear that this service will continue uninterrupted before construction begins on tens of thousands of new base stations across the country. This is about the livelihood of our farmers and the safety of our communities."

The FCC recently issued a waiver allowing technology company LightSquared to construct 40,000 new ground stations across the country as they create a mobile broadband network on a frequency band adjacent to the band used for GPS. Johnson is asking the FCC to rescind this waiver until Lightsquared can prove this construction will not cause interruptions in GPS.

Johnson joined a bipartisan coalition of Senators from across the country in sending a letter to the FCC today. A copy of the letter is below:

May 20, 2011

The Honorable Julius Genachowski
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554

Dear Mr. Chairman:

We write to express concern regarding a recent order by the International Bureau granting LightSquared Subsidiary LLC ("LightSquared") a waiver of the "integrated service" rule with regard to its Mobile Satellite Service license in the L-Band. We urge the full Commission to give appropriate attention to this matter.

Numerous parties have raised significant concerns about interference from the LightSquared system into the Global Positioning System (GPS) frequencies. These parties included the GPS industry, the aviation, agriculture, construction, cellular telecommunications companies and government entities such as the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Homeland Security. We have substantial concerns that LightSquared's proposal places an unacceptable risk to public safety through interference with GPS receivers necessary for aviation, first responders, agriculture, construction, maritime navigation, E-911, and national defense systems.

GPS is integral to the functioning of our economy, and is essential for public safety. To ensure full protection that GPS service is not compromised in any way, we request the full Commission require LightSquared to demonstrate non-interference of GPS as a condition prior to any operation of its proposed service, and we request the Commission rescind LightSquared's waiver until this demonstration can be made.

We recognize the Commission's unique obligation to the public, and its commitment to ensure appropriate use of the nation's airwaves. We urge the Commission, therefore, to ensure the uninterrupted operation of our nation's critical GPS system.


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