Earlier this summer, MFA’s Precision Agronomy Manager, Rick Greene, offered comments to the FCC concerning a potential threat to GPS signal from an effort by LightSquared to deploy wireless broadband. The terrestrial-based system would provide internet service across the continent, and the spectrum that LightSquared intends to use has potential to disrupt GPS signal, rendering existing GPS equipment ineffective.
Greene reminded the FCC that the advancement of broadband should not be at the expense of GPS devices used by farmers, emergency responders, aviation, military and other civil engineers that use GPS.
“MFA has over 700,000 acres in GPS-sampled nutrient management, 9.5 million acres covered with RTK correction, and have sold almost $20 million dollars of GPS equipment to farmers that will be directly affected by LightSquared’s project.
“The technology has helped farmers improve their environmental stewardship while gaining economic efficiencies through more precise fertilizer application. ‘Precision agriculture’ will have to grow if America’s farmers are going to meet increasing demands for food while facing pressures to reduce their environmental footprint.”
Greene joined other GPS users, including Garmin, Magellan, John Deere, Caterpillar, CNH, Trimble, AgLeader in asking the FCC to resolve interference issues before granting LightSquared access to public spectrum.
Public comment on the issue closed in July. But the issue is still in play.
As this issue went to press, Iowa’s Senator Chuck Grassley continued to push the FCC for a clearer picture on what would happen to GPS equipment if LightSquared was given license to populate the spectrum it seeks to use for wireless broadband service. For its part, LightSquared suggests that GPS equipment has been manufactured ignoring certain specifications that would have made it less susceptible to interference from nearby signal.
For a good primer on the subject, visit http://www.gpsworld.com and type “GPS Grassley” in the search box.
Contact your federal congressional representative or senator if you’d like to provide input.