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U.S. Military’s UWB Plans Could Create Problems for GPS-based Weapons

By | October 15, 2003

      BOSTON–The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is scrutinizing the issue of whether the U.S. military’s plans to expand the use of ultra-wideband (UWB) communications could pose an interference problem for Global Positioning System signals, which provide “smart weapons” with the ability to pinpoint targets. Jay E. Padgett, who studied UWB interference with narrow-band technologies at DARPA contractor Telcordia Technologies, said DARPA will soon release a study assessing the UWB interference risk. The agency is about to begin demonstrating UWB uses as part of its NETEX (networking in extreme environments) program, he told a panel at the MilCom 2003 conference here today.

      The issue of interference between UWB and GPS bedeviled the Federal Communications Commission for a number of years as it considered rules for the commercial use of UWB, noted Steve K. Jones, senior electronics engineer at the FCC’s OET/Laboratory Division. He told the panel that after years of considering the issue, the agency decided last year to severely limit the power of UWB devices that operate in the 960 MHz to 3100 MHz bands, which include the bands that GPS uses to send positioning signals.

      For more on MilCom 2003, see the newly launched SATELLITE NEWS’ Government Procurement Report available through SATELLITE TODAY at the end of the month. For more info, visit our Web site at

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