Phones battle GPS for bandwith


We all need 4G. No question.

But more electromagnetic radiation may mean more interference. We’ve long known that cell phones and VHF radios interfere with avalanche beacons—keep them a few feet away, or turn off your phone and radio when doing a beacon search.

Now, telecom LightSquared has FCC approval to build some 40 thousand bases for a 4G cell network. But the frequency overlaps with the 59 MHz band, used by some GPS units (now in smart phones and cameras too). The potential for interference could hamper our backcountry navigation.  For more info, read the Garmin and Lightsquared statements.

On a typical mountain rescue mission, I carry a GPS, camera, phone, VHF/UHF radio, and avalanche beacon. That's a lot of electromagnetic energy zipping around, no wonder there's interference.


Christopher Van Tilburg, MD