The Fate of GPS

The Fate of GPS

The Fate of GPS. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

Global Positioning Satellite or GPS has become an important part of our lives from apps built into our smart phones to allowing farmers to map fields. The future of GPS seems certain to continue to expand and grow. But a new plan by the company LightSquared to built a nationwide wireless internet network could render GPS dead in the water. Northwest Ag Networks, Lacy Gray has more.

GRAY: On the surface the idea of developing and integrating a nationwide wireless internet network looks like the answer to many rural communities prayers. President Obama has an ambitious plan to get 98% of the U.S. connected to high-speed Internet and create new economic opportunities in many remote, rural areas. LightSquared, headquartered out of Reston, Virginia, plans to develop a wholesale 4G LTE or Long Term Evolution wireless broadband communications network integrated with satellite coverage across the United States. The plan would provide wireless connectivity across almost every corner of the U.S., even in very remote areas.

The rub comes from the fact that LightSquared’s initial plan would interfere with GPS signals and make them useless. A number of organizations have raised the warning bell and called on Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to help stop LightSquared’s plan. According to the “Coalition to Save Our GPS,” 3.3 million U.S. jobs and $96 billion in annual direct economic benefits are at risk.

In a recent statement one Coalition member organizations is quoted saying; “LightSquared plan could degrade most if not all GPS receivers as far as 22 miles from one of the 40,000 transmitters. The harm to highly-productive precision agricultural practices is clear. Farmer business plans depend on GPS information such as yield data, harvest weights, moisture data, and other precision agriculture data. Interference with GPS signals up to 22 miles away would devastate productivity and impede U.S. agriculture ability to help meet the compounding worldwide demand for food.”

The Coalition and it’s members have called for the complete stop to Lightsquared’s ambitious plan. Greg.

Thanks Lacy. In response to the onslaught of negativity towards LightSquared, the company has altered their current plans and says they have a fix to the issue. The company said it is setting aside spectrum that is in the spectrum band adjacent to the one used for GPS or Global Positioning Systems. LightSquared has worked out a deal with satellite provider Inmarsat to use frequencies lower in the spectrum band that is further away from the GPS spectrum. These frequencies are not expected to interfere with GPS gear. This will be an interesting story to follow.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network.

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