The US FAA is studying the possibility of deploying a nationwide network of GPS interference detectors that would be placed on cellular communications towers to "mitigate interference in order to protect air navigation system".

Protecting GPS signals from jamming, whether intentional or unintentional, will be a critical aspect of the next generation air transportation system (NextGen) as the industry transfers from ground-based networks to GPS for navigation guidance.

The FAA plans to issue a contract to Alcatel-Lucent, provider of voice, data and video communications services, to study the feasibility of a "limited demonstration system" and its potential for "expansion into a nationwide or global system", according to a 28 October federal business announcement.

The demonstration would use data from GPS receivers located on Alcatel-Lucent cellular communications towers in the US.

"Alcatel-Lucent has access to a large portion of the nationwide cellular grid, density of coverage, and has the ability to modify the proprietary equipment to provide government access to the GPS data without compromising subscribers privacy," says the FAA, adding that the company as of late 2007 had 47% of the worldwide market for the communications equipment used in 3G wireless communications systems.

"Also Alcatel-Lucent has extensive experience in using GPS to detect an locate interference," the FAA writes.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news