NAWG and other farm groups told congressional leaders this week that LightSquared’s planned use of the electromagnetic spectrum for a new wireless broadband system would disrupt GPS systems even if filters are created to lessen interference.
The message was delivered at more than a dozen meetings between agriculture group staff and Members of Congress and their staffs as part of a Hill push on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Groups participating in the outreach included NAWG, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Soybean Association, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Cotton Council and agricultural systems suppliers John Deere and Trimble.
The group met with Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as well as staff for Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.).
On the House side, the group met with staff from the offices of House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa), Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Ill.), Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.), Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) and Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.).
The Federal Communications Commission is considering a condition it placed on a spectrum use waiver requested by LightSquared, a company with technology that could dramatically expand rural broadband access but that studies show could also emit signal interference that effectively disables GPS systems.
Agriculture groups have become engaged in this issue because without a technical fix, LightSquared’s technology would knock out most of an estimated 500,000 precision receivers, which have allowed for critical safety and environmental benefits and billions of dollars of savings on the farm.
NAWG and other groups have called for continued testing to find a fix to these technical issues before the FCC removes the conditional waiver for LightSquared. NAWG and ag groups have also repeatedly said that LightSquared should bear any cost associated with modifying existing GPS systems to work with its new broadband system.