FCC ruling could cause satellite positioning failures, says u-blox

August 31, 2021 // By Peter Clarke
FCC ruling could cause satellite positioning failures, says u-blox
An FCC ruling could cause dangerous failures amongst millions of deployed systems that use positioning by satellite, including such things as vehicle and drone navigation and base station synchronization, according to RF and location specialist u-blox (Thalwil, Swtizerland).

u-blox has spoken out against the use of parts of the L band for terrestrial cellular communications because this may interfere with positioning by satellite and reckons that FCC testing criteria are inappropriate. The company also reckons the ruling could disrupt the roll out of autonomous driving and 5G cellular communications in the US.

The FCC has granted a license to Ligado Networks LLC (Reston, Virginia) allowing the use of previously protected portion of the L band (1GHz to 2GHz) to be used for terrestrial communications. Prior to this the band was limited to satellite communication terminals and in operation had little impact on other satellite communications and global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) such as GPS.

u-blox said that following the FCC order Ligado will be free to use these frequencies, which are close to those used by GNSS receivers and could disrupt the operation of GNSS receivers from any manufacturer operating within a kilometer or so of a Ligado base station or near a compatible cellular handset.

u-blox said that FCC testing criteria are inappropriate and that operation by Ligado could disrupt the operation of millions of deployed GNSS receivers across the US. These are deployed in applications that include vehicle navigation, automated driver assistance, drone navigation, vehicle fleet tracking, asset tracking, wearable applications, machine control, base station synchronization and more. There are several generations of u-blox GNSS receivers in use in the millions of devices deployed in the USA.

They have been set up on the basis of a lack of GNSS interference based on the absence of high-powered signals in nearby frequency bands. The FCC has swept away that protection, leaving almost tens of millions of GNSS receiver applications at risk, u-blox said.

Next: Impact on automotive, 5G


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