Woolpert Joins Industry in Fight Against GPS Interference, Potential Impacts to Local Economy Significant

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Woolpert, a design, geospatial and infrastructure management consulting firm headquartered in Dayton, recently joined with Congressman Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) and other industry organizations in the fight against GPS interference. If plans by 4G LTE company Lightsquared’s network are allowed to move forward as determined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there will be a significant negative impact on Dayton’s economy.

Woolpert, a design, geospatial and infrastructure management consulting firm headquartered in Dayton, recently joined with Congressman Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) and other industry organizations in the fight against GPS interference. If plans by 4G LTE company Lightsquared’s network are allowed to move forward as determined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there will be a significant negative impact on Dayton’s economy.

Most recently, a leaked report on findings related to Lightsquared’s interference with GPS stated that Lightsquared’s network still interferes with 75 percent of GPS technology, according to the Bloomberg BusinessWeek article, Falcone’s LightSquared Said to Disrupt 75% of GPS in Tests.

Congress is attempting to ensure the FCC does not grant final approval to Lightsquared to move forward until interference issues have been resolved. Through his work on the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations subcommittee, which oversees the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Congressman Austria was able to secure language in the CJS report to ensure the NTIA gives this process the proper attention it deserves. This appropriations “minibus” bill was passed in the House and Senate and signed into law last month and included the Congressman’s language.

On Friday the House approved a second broader appropriations package that included an amendment that Congressman Austria introduced with Congressman Yoder (R-KS) to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations subcommittee during committee markup. This subcommittee has direct oversight over the FCC and the amendment will effectively ban the FCC from moving forward until they have resolved the concerns of harmful interference to the GPS systems. The package is expected to move through the Senate and become law in the coming few days.

“I was pleased the original GPS language that I authored, which helps protect the industry, was included in the final Appropriations bill. While continuing to advance broadband technology is important, any expansion must be done in a responsible manner that ensures current GPS systems are not interfered with,” Congressman Austria said. “My office worked closely with various groups, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation, local businesses, as well as, the broad interests represented by the Coalition to Save Our GPS to make certain that the GPS technologies used by our pilots, first emergency responders, firefighters, surveyors, farmers and others are not hindered and those services continue as usual.”

Representing the surveying and mapping industry, Shane Imwalle, Senior Vice President at Woolpert, recently testified at a hearing along with the many other organizations that could be negatively impacted by Lightsquared’s actions.

“We stand to get hit hard at the very core of our region’s economy, with so many organizations dependent on GPS technology,” said Imwalle. “With the support of local politicians, corporations and federal organizations, we feel we can protect GPS technology against interference. This Lightsquared initiative would not only negatively impact the Dayton economy, but also countless companies and organizations across the nation relying on GPS to function.”

Interference with GPS technology would have devastating effects on the U.S. military, emergency responders, aviation, homeland security, transportation, land management, disaster management and utilities consumers to name a few.

"GPS is a critical enabler to countless national security capabilities, as well as economic security capabilities. Anything that threatens its full utilization impacts the nation in general and a place like Dayton in particular. For example, many of the technologies being developed at AFRL for our national security depend on GPS signals to function effectively. A loss or diminishment of GPS's capabilities is absolutely unacceptable,” said Lester Lyles, former U.S. Air Force General.

In a February 17 speech, General William L. Shelton Commander, Air Force Space Command said, “If we allow that system to be fielded and it does indeed jam GPS, imagine the impact. We’re talking about $110 billion industry in GPS; we’re talking about dependence on so many things in our infrastructure.”

About Woolpert

Woolpert, ranked by Engineering News-Record as a top national design firm, provides professional design, geospatial and infrastructure services to clients in the public and private sectors. Founded in 1911, Woolpert’s innovative design approach and commitment to the creative application of technology have grown the firm into a leader in the consulting industry. With nearly 650 professionals in 22 offices located throughout the U.S., Woolpert’s collaborative and multidisciplinary approach is driven by great people, great clients and great projects. For more information on Woolpert, visit Woolpert’s website. To see how Woolpert has contributed to the advancement of the industry as the firm celebrates 100 years in business, visit the 100-year site. For insight on industry trends and emerging topics, visit our Thought Leaders blog.

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Jocelyn Hodson
Woolpert
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