The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) says the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and an independent technical company must complete comprehensive and rigorous testing on all proposed technical fixes to ensure there is no interference between broadband and GPS signals that could be created by a broadband network being developed by LightSquared.
“It is critical that costs for resolving this issue are not passed along to farmers and ranchers through higher GPS or equipment costs,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said during a House Small Business Committee hearing on Wednesday. “LightSquared should cover the expense of all technical fixes related to the interference issue to ensure the cost is not passed along to farmers and ranchers.”
Many farmers rely on GPS for precision agriculture. This includes using GPS for accurate mapping of field boundaries, roads and irrigation systems; for precision planting; and for targeting the application of fertilizer and chemicals that combat weeds and crop diseases. GPS also allows farmers to work in their fields despite low-visibility conditions such as rain, dust, fog and darkness.
“While the deployment of broadband services is important for economic development, better education and improved health services in rural America, the use of precision agriculture is vital to America’s farmers and ranchers as they continue to feed, fuel and clothe the world,” Stallman said.
AFBF submitted comments to the FCC in July urging the agency to ensure there is no interference with GPS receivers prior to granting LightSquared permission to operate its high-powered base stations.