Garmin Nuvi

Do you want a reliable GPS signal or blazing 4G data speeds? According to a pair of engineers at Garmin International, you might be able to get one, but not both.

Researching the expansion of new 4G networks, Scott Burgett and Bronson Hokuf performed a series of lab simulations to see if the GPS satellite band would be affected by the planned rollout of some 40,000 4G base stations on the ground. GPS satellites have been transmitting signals on the bands between 1559 and 1610 megahertz for decades, but the proposed 4G stations would be occupying a similar spectrum – in the 1525 to 1559 MHz range.

During their tests, Burgett and Hokuf discovered that the overlap has the potential to seriously compromise GPS reception that "will result in widespread, severe GPS jamming [and] will deny GPS service over vast areas of the United States."

Lightsquared – the company that plans to build the new 4G transmitters – is on the record as saying that the new base stations aren't to blame, rather the GPS receivers "may be able to see into the L band where we operate." New Scientist has all the details and the FCC is hoping to have a final report out by June 15.

[Source: NewScientist via Gizmodo]