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Northwest Iowa Dairy Outlooks

A local discussion of current science and issues concerning dairying in northwest iowa

Randy Taylor, Ag Machinery Extension Specialist in Oklahoma reports that at the recent Ag Technology Field Days in Oklahoma, the question was raised regarding interference with GPS by a proposed 4G cellular network. LightSquared was granted a conditional waiver by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to
use frequencies near the L-band GPS frequencies.

A Technical Working Group was recently formed (mandated by the FCC) to evaluate the potential interference. This group, consisting of more than 100 individuals with expertise in GPS systems, tested more than 100 GPS devices representing many facets of users (aviation, cellular, general navigation and location, high precision, etc.) and issued a 1000-plus page report to the FCC. With regard to the high precision receivers used in agriculture, the report concluded “The LightSquared Base Station 4G LTE signals harmfully interfere with High Precision, Timing, and Network GPS receivers over long ranges.”

The short story is that if LightSquared’s proposed 4G network is implemented, many believe that precision GPS use in agriculture will be severely hampered and likely cease. While there have been some proposed solutions by LightSquared, none of these have been evaluated.

The best source for more information on this topic is the Coalition to Save Our GPS website ( While the future is still uncertain regarding this issue, the time for comment
is short. The comment period for Docket 11-109 with the FCC expires today, July 30, 2011. You can comment online at

More than 3.3 million U.S. jobs in agriculture and industries rely heavily on Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and the disruption of interference with GPS posed by LightSquared’s planned deployment of 40,000 ground stations threatens direct economic costs of up to $96 billion to U.S. commercial GPS users and manufacturers, according to an economic study released today.

A study by Dr. Nam D. Pham of the Washington, D.C.-based NDP Consulting Group and commissioned by the Coalition to Save Our GPS warns of “serious economic repercussions for the U.S. economy” if LightSquared’s plans proceed and points out that the $96 billion economic figure represents the equivalent of 0.7 percent of the U.S. economy. The $96 billion figure is the total of up to $87.2 billion in costs to commercial GPS users and up to $8.8 billion in costs to commercial GPS manufacturers. The commercial benefits of GPS are largely enabled by high precision GPS technologies.

The study states that the commercial adoption of GPS continues to grow and is expected to annually create $122.4 billion in benefits and grow to directly affect more than 5.8 million jobs in the downstream commercial GPS-intensive industries.

The analysis shows that GPS equipment revenues in North America in the 2005-2010 time period averaged $33.5 billion per year and that commercial sales accounted for 25 percent of the total, while the consumer and military markets respectively made up 59 percent and 16 percent of the total. The report notes that the U.S. government
has already invested $35 billion in taxpayer money in the GPS satellite constellation and continues to invest in GPS at a rate of about $1 billion a year.

Referring to LightSquared’s plans, the report states, “The commercial stakes are high. The downstream industries that rely on professional and high precision GPS technology for their own business operations would face serious disruption to their operations should interference occur, and U.S. leadership and innovation would suffer.”

Ken Golden, director of global public relations at John Deere: “The use of GPS technology is vital to thousands of people who make their living with agricultural and construction equipment. It is simply not acceptable to allow this new network to interfere with these important industries when all indications are that there is no practical solution to mitigate this interference. In agriculture, the loss of a stable GPS system could have an impact of anywhere from $14 to $30 billion each year. That could significantly erode the strong competitive global position of U.S. farmers in the world agricultural economy. Serious impacts to the productivity of those in the construction business also will be apparent.”


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