FAA's LightSquared tests have Nevadans worrying that the sky is falling

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A test to determine whether LightSquared's hybrid wireless/satellite high-speed data network transmissions cause GPS interference have some Nevadans looking up at the skies while public safety officials relearn the basics of map reading.

GPS advocates claim that LightSquared's planned radio frequencies come too close to their own and could cause interference with aircraft. To determine whether or not this is true, the FAA, with the backing of Congress and the military, is testing LightSquared's transmitters in Las Vegas and Boulder City, Nev. and has warned pilots to beware of potential GPS interference.

"There are definitely interference effects. The question is how much and for what kinds of receivers," said Tony Russo, director of the National Coordination Office of Space-based Positioning, Navigation and Timing (and try fitting that on a business card).

Ground interference, while possible, is of less concern. Vegas public safety "might be a little bit inconvenienced" by the test but "all of our officers know how to read a map," police spokesman Bill Cassell said. And no one will get lost in the desert, added Chris Dancey, spokesman for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, who said the test is "something that noncommercial pilots need to be aware of."

For more:
- the Las Vegas Sun has this story

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