(Harlan) Agencies who rely heavily on the global positioning system are breathing a sigh of relief today. Tuesday, the FCC turned down telecommunications company LightSquared and its majority owner Harbinger Capital Partners venturecp to provide wireless service in rural America. The FCC ruled that potential interference with GPS units was too much to overcome to make the network feasible in rural areas.
Dan Lucas, Precision Ag Specialist with HTS Precision Ag Solutions in Harlan says the FCC found out that the wireless signal would be competing directly with all of the GPS receivers.
"It didn't matter if it was from the military, from aviation or from agriculture, the we're most worried about," stated Lucas. "But, the band width of LightSquared and what they were going to do was put up about 700-towers in the United States and broadcast a very high powered signal that would have blown the GPS signal out of the water because it is coming from satellites that are 100-150 miles up in the air."
Though rural areas are in need of wireless service, agriculture groups and farm equipment companies have opposed the project based on concerns that the Lightsquared signal could interfere with GPS Precision-agriculture systems.
Lucas said, "The FCC stepped in and said.....HOLD ON...we have a problem here. And that is when those big GPS players like Trimble, Garmin, John Deere and all the people that we work with said this is going to affect us drastically, and they were right."
The FCC approved Lightsquared to build its ground network in 2005. In 2010, the FCC amended the plan to require the company to build a national broadband network that reached 260 million Americans. However, tests conducted last year show interference on 69 of 92 personal/general navigation GPS receivers as proposed by LightSquared.
February 16, 2012