Boaters stand to lose critical GPS nav aid

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As a result of a proposal by a private company to use radio frequency bandwidth right next to the existing GPS radio bandwidth, the future reliability of the GPS system across the United States is now in question.

The nation's largest recreational boaters group, BoatUS, says boaters could have a hard time avoiding treacherous shoals or simply finding their way home if GPS signals are interfered with, and is urging boaters to speak out during a 30-day comment period.

"This is a remarkably short comment period for an issue that has such dire consequences for America's boaters and every other GPS user in the country," said BoatUS vice president of government affairs Margaret Podlich.

At issue is an unusual conditional waiver granted in January by the Federal Communications Commission to a broadband wireless communications provider, LightSquared, to permit the dramatic expansion of land-based use of mobile satellite spectrum. This spectrum, or frequency bandwidth, is directly adjacent to the frequencies used for GPS communications.

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