University testing GPS interference
- By Bryant Jordan
- Aug 25, 2000
Tests aimed at learning whether ultra-wideband signals interfere with the
Global Positioning System are underway at the University of Texas' Applied
Testing by the facility on the university's Austin campus is being funded
by Time Domain, a company that manufactures ultra-wideband devices, but
the Federal Communications Commission will analyze the data.
Miguel Cardoza, who heads up the Austin lab, said it is important for
the university facility to conduct the tests.
"We have a serious commitment to GPS and to protecting the integrity
of the GPS system. The testing will provide a baseline by which any organization
can determine for itself the impact of [ultra-wideband] transmissions on
GPS," he said.
Mary Lenz, a spokeswoman for the lab, said testing will be completed
by the end of September and the results turned over to the FCC by mid-October.
That's about two weeks before public comments are due to the FCC on a notice
of proposed rulemaking for ultra-wideband that the agency issued last spring.
"The FCC will evaluate the test data as the agency considers proposals
for deployment and regulation of UWB technology," Lenz said.
Ultra-wideband signals are bursts, or pulses, that cross the broadcast
spectrum microseconds apart. Advocates say the signals pass through other
frequencies without disruption. If true, that means a whole new broadcast
system will be opened up to a range of communications — including radar
systems that could locate people through walls.
Critics, including the commercial airlines industry and the Global Positioning
Industry Council, fear the signals will interfere with the GPS and with
transmissions used to navigate and land aircraft.
In July, these skeptical groups failed to get the FCC to revoke waivers
it had previously given Time Domain, Zircon Corp. and U.S. Radar Inc. to
sell ultra-wideband devices on a limited bases.