Friday, September 2, 2011

New Technology Could Kill Fullerton Commuters


The Register's report also includes an important but completely misunderstood issue.
And $13.5 million will fund a global-positioning-based system for much of the line between Moorpark and San Onofre. Also called Positive Train Control, the system prevents collisions and derailments. The Federal Rail Safety Improvement Act makes the system mandatory by 2015.
“The implementation of the Positive Train Control will improve safety for our passengers,” said Laura Scheper, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Transportation Authority, which oversees Metrolink service in the county.
So what's the problem?  A new company known as LightSquared.  Their use of a nearly identical frequency as that used by global positioning systems (GPS) causes GPS receivers to fail.  

I have expressed serious concern regarding the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granting LightSquared, LLC conditional approval to build a nationwide 4G-LTE wireless broadband network (FCC File No. SAT-MOD-20101118-00239). Early testing by GPS technology leaders, Garmin and Trimble Navigation, demonstrated that LightSquared’s technology would likely interfere with Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, degrading their performance in the best case scenario and completely jamming GPS receivers in the worst case scenario.

The Department of Defense, FAA, DHS, NASA, DOI, DOT, DOC, and the Professional Land Surveying and Engineering professions, have all expressed serious reservations in regards to this plan by LightSquared, LLC to build 40,000 ground stations in the U.S. that could cause widespread interference to GPS signals.

The National Marine Manufactures Association said in a letter to the FCC that "they are especially concerned with the apparent lack of concern shown in the Technical Working Group report to the effect of the LightSquared proposal on existing devices."  The July 29, 2011 letter goes onto to say that "it is notable that the testing that was done by the Technical Working Group did not include recreational marine applications."

This network of ground stations will transmit signals within the L-band frequency immediately adjacent to the GPS L1 frequency at more than one billion times the strength of the low-power GPS signal from space!  Furthermore, each mobile phone using LightSquared’s wireless service would potentially become a portable GPS jamming device by jamming GPS receivers in its immediate vicinity.

The result of having GPS-guided trains AND LightSquared means a nearly certain disaster is on the horizon!

LightSquared has openly admitted to the interference after conducting their own tests! "Initial tests of LightSquared’s terrestrial base stations, however, have shown that these transmissions can cause interference issues for GPS receivers."

Telecommunications lobbyists acknowledge that "it is likely there will be interference issues that will need to be solved".

I wrote a letter to the FCC and Congressman Royce and have not heard back from either.  I'm not holding my breath...

6 comments:

  1. I work in the railroad industry.

    Positive Train Control was mandated by the Feds following the tragic Metrolink crash in Chatsworth in September 2008.

    The system is being designed to use GPS to enforce block signal indications, speeds, and other restrictions affecting the train if the engineer fails to comply. Currently, this is done 100 percent manually by the train crew. In other words the crew is handed a stack of paperwork and rulebooks and is expected to comply.

    We humans are fallible beings. We are prone to mistakes, fatigue, and distractions. I believe PTC can reduce these incidents to a large degree if, and only if, everything functions as designed. GPS issues are just one of the challenges at this point.

    Every train handles differently and while humans can discern those minor differences, there's no way of predicting how the onboard computer will react or overreact to various problems in the field. Gridlock is very possible for years to come as the bugs are worked out.

    Signed into law in 2008 the Feds made an absolutely absurd deadline of 2015 for the system to be operational. That will never happen. We don't even know if the system will be usable when first deployed.

    A disclaimer is in order. The railroads have dragged their feet for years accomplishing this on their own. Many people have died because of fatigue, distractions, mistakes, etc. The technology is needed but given the complexity, the drop dead date of 2015 is unreasonable. I fear mistakes will be made in a rush to appease the Feds.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks! GPS is a great tool and the PTC could be a huge plus. However, until LightSquared is dealt with, PTC will be DOA.

    Also something to consider...ANY strong radio signal near the GPS antenna will cause the GPS to lose the satellites for a little while.

    ReplyDelete
  3. So many of the anti-LightSquared commentators fail to reflect on this:

    "Central to the debate is whether LightSquared has a responsibility to protect those high-precision services even though they’re technically trespassing on its airwaves..."

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anon,
    I have reflected upon that. The FCC is the "guardian' of the airwaves and LightSquared has to conform to FCC rules.
    TITLE 47--TELECOMMUNICATION
    CHAPTER I--FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

    PART 15_RADIO FREQUENCY DEVICES--
    Subpart A_General

    Sec. 15.5 General conditions of operation.
    (b) Operation of an intentional, unintentional, or incidental
    radiator is subject to the conditions that no harmful interference is caused and that interference must be accepted that may be caused by the operation of an authorized radio station, by another intentional or
    unintentional radiator, by industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) equipment, or by an incidental radiator.

    Also, to be fair, any radio transmitter can, with sufficient power, interfere with a GPS receiver. We rely on the FCC to regulate transmitters to minimize interference. For the most part, keeping transmission antennas away from GPS receivers prevents interference.

    Also, to be clear, I am FOR LightSquared. However, we cannot take advantage of new technology without weighing the unintended consequences. LightSquared created a type of radio frequency pollution.

    ReplyDelete
  5. There are actually a number of details like that to take into consideration. That could be a nice point to bring up.

    ReplyDelete
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Greg Sebourn

Orange County Bail Bonds

The Beauty of a Storm

The Beauty of a Storm
Orange County, Ca.

My Grandma - A Eulogy

LET'S TALK ABOUT 1914 FOR A MOMENT.



FOR STARTERS, GRANDMA WAS BORN TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1914 IN HER FAMILY'S ATWOOD RANCH HOUSE.



IT IS WORTH NOTING THOSE ALSO BORN IN 1914:

JACK LALANNE

JOE DIMAGGIO

DANNY THOMAS



AND WHO DIED IN 1914:

JOHN MUIR, THE FAMOUS NATURALIST FOR WHICH NUMEROUS ROADS, PARKS, HOTELS, AND NATURE RESERVES ARE NAMED.



IT IS ALSO WORTH NOTING THAT IN 1914 WOODROW WILSON SIGNS MOTHER'S DAY PROCLAMATION AND BABE RUTH MAKES HIS MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT WITH THE RED SOX. MOTHER'S DAY AND BASEBALL- TWO OF MY FAVORITES!! (PERHAPS HER NICKNAME "BABE" CAME FROM BABE RUTH???)



GRANDMA WAS BORN INTO A PERIOD OF TIME FILLED WITH TURMOIL. IN JUNE OF 1914 ARCHDUKE FRANZS FERDINAND WAS ASSASSINATED. WITHIN ONE MONTH WORLD WAR I RAGED ACROSS EUROPE. TWO DAYS AFTER HER BIRTH HOWEVER, GERMAN AND BRITISH TROOPS INTERRUPTED WWI TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS. (PERHAPS THEY PAUSE KNOWING THAT A GREAT WOMAN WAS BORNE) WORLD WAR I CONTINUED UNTIL THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES IN 1919.



ALTHOUGH SHE WAS ONLY 5 YEARS OLD, SHE SAW THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS CREATED AND THE 19TH AMENDMENT WAS APPROVED BY THE U.S. CONGRESS GUARANTEEING THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN TO VOTE.



SHE LIVED THROUGH MANY NOTABLE EVENTS. LIKE THE 1933 LONG BEACH EARTHQUAKE OR WHEN ATWOOD FLOODED ALONG WITH MOST OF ORANGE COUNTY IN 1938 AND THE FLOOD-WATERS CLAIMED MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE, 43 OF WHICH WERE FROM ATWOOD! ALL OF THIS DURING A TIME THAT WE READ ABOUT IN SCHOOL AND KNOWN AS "THE GREAT DEPRESSION". SOMEWHERE IN ALL OF THAT SHE FOUND THE LOVE OF HER LIFE, GRANDPA LEO, GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL, GOT MARRIED, AND HAD KIDS!



THEN THERE WAS WORLD WAR II. FROM PEARL HARBOR TO HIROSHIMA, GRANDMA WAS RAISING MY UNCLE BOB AND MOM ARLINE. WITH AIR-RAID SIRENS AND BLACKOUTS SHE WAS A WIFE AND MOTHER. WHAT A TIME TO RAISE CHILDREN! I BET GRANDMA'S PARENTS WERE ABEL TO TELL HER A THING OR TWO ABOUT RAISING KIDS IN WARTIME.



GRANDMA WAS THERE WHEN THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA HELD THEIR 3RD ANNUAL NATIONAL JAMBOREE IN 1953. SHE SAW AIRBASES OPEN IN '42 AND CLOSE IN '99. SHE WATCHED WALTER KNOTT START UP HIS BERRY FARM AND WALT DISNEY TURN ORANGE GROVES AND STRAWBERRY PATCHES INTO DISNEYLAND!



SHE SAW THE HORSE AND CARRIAGE FADE AWAY INTO HISTORY AND SPACE TRAVEL EXPLODE BEFORE HER WITH THE FIRST LUNAR LANDING. JUST IMAGINE HOW MUCH TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED OVER THE LAST 100 YEARS. FROM TUBE RECTIFIERS TO SUPERCONDUCTORS; FROM TRANS-ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH CABLES TO SATELLITE TV.



SHE SAW MORE IN HER 93 YEARS THAN MOST OF US WILL EVER READ ABOUT, LET ALONE LIVE THROUGH!



OF THOSE 93 YEARS IT IS MY HONOR TO HAVE BEEN HER GRANDSON FOR 35 OF THEM. SHE WAS MY MOTHER WHEN MOM HAD TO WORK. SHE WIPED MY NOSE AND PUT FOOD IN MY MOUTH. SHE LET ME PLAY WITH GRANDPA EVEN THOUGH SHE NEEDED HIM TO TAKE HER TO THE STORE. SHE WAS MY GRANDMA AND I WILL MISS HER IMMENSELY.



JUST LOOK AROUND THIS ROOM; SHE DID THIS. SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING SO MANY GOOD PEOPLE INTO THIS WORLD AND TOGETHER TODAY. THIS IS HER LEGACY.



A Dedication To My Loving Wife, Stacey. Thank you for all you do for me!

Brad Paisley - I Thought I Loved You Then


I remember trying not to stare the night that I first met you
You had me mesmerized
3 weeks later in the front porch light taking 45 min to kiss you goodnight
I hadn’t told you yet but I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I remember taking you back to right where I first met you
You were so surprised
There were people around
But I didn’t care I got down on one knee right there
And once again I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I can just see you with a baby on the way
I can just see you when your hair is turning gray
What I can’t see is how I’m ever gonna love you more
But I’ve said that before.

Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Well look back some day at this moment that we’re in
And I'll look at you and say I thought I loved you then
And I thought I loved you then...

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