Questions Remain over LightSquared Spectrum Usage

Melissa SandfortCorn, Farmers, GPS, John Deere, Wireless

Over the past year, the National Corn Growers Association has monitored issues surrounding the wireless broadband company LightSquared. While the Federal Communications Commission considers approval of LightSquared’s proposed terrestrial based broadband network, NCGA remains concerned about the effects it would have on precision farming. GPS technology has become an important tool for farmers as they improve their efficiency in seed, fertilizer and fuel usage.

“Strong and speedy Internet access is important to our growers, so NCGA supports the expansion of broadband in rural America,” said Ethan Mathews, manager of Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs for NCGA said. “However it must not come at the expense of high-precision GPS.”

Although LightSquared states that solutions to the interference problem have been developed by several independent companies, the company has yet to provide access to either the test results or the devices. Further, the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration are continuing their evaluation of theGPS interference issue. NCGA will look to the FCC and NTIA to ensure the issue has been resolved without loss to accuracy and performance.

In addition, NCGA will continue to work closely with John Deere, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Wheat Growers and the American Soybean Association to ensure the GPS technology remains available to our farmers.