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Your GPS May Not Work Anymore

A new, ultra-fast wireless Internet network may overpower GPS signals across the US, interfering not only with the GPS in your car, but also airplanes. This is not just an annoyance: Researchers are unveiling a new tool to use GPS to detect nuclear explosions set off by rogue countries and terrorists.

A recent government decision allows a company called LightSquared build a nationwide broadband network using airwaves that are next to those used for GPS. Manufacturers of GPS equipment warn that strong signals from the network could jam existing navigation systems. LightSquared will soon start sending high-powered signals from as many as 40,000 transmitters on the ground. On CT Post.com, Joelle Tessler quotes Jim Kirkland, CEO of a company that makes GPS devices, as saying, "The potential impact of GPS interference is so vast, it's hard to get your head around. Think 40,000 GPS dead spots covering millions of square miles in cities and towns throughout the US."

Even the Pentagon has expressed concern, since it relies on GPS to guide planes, ships, armored vehicles, weapons and troops. This wasn't a problem until now: GPS receivers haven't had much trouble filtering out noise in the nearby airwaves because it consists mostly of low-power signals beamed from space. But that will change once there is a major ground-based broadband network in place that uses similar waves.

Tesller quotes researcher Dan Hays as saying, "This is a situation where the neighbor built the fence too far over the property line and may not have realized it at the time. Now the other neighbor wants to build a pool and there is not enough space. So the question is: who has to pay to move the fence?"

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