A significant question concerning a new rural broadband system that could benefit your farm remains unanswered even after release of preliminary findings from a U.S. government panel.
The panel - called the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Systems Engineering Forum - issued a report after reviewing test data for the LightSquared system. This innovative broadband system could provide high-speed Internet access to rural areas. However its 40,000-tower approach has been shown in the past to interfere with a range of GPS services that could impact your farm.
In a report issues by the government group, Anthony Russo, director, National Coordination Office, National Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing, states: " Preliminary analysis of the test findings found no significant interference with cellular phones. However, the testing did show that LightSquared signals caused harmful interference to the majority of other tested general purpose GPS receivers. Separate analysis by the Federal Aviation Administration also found interference with a flight safety system designed to warn pilots of approaching terrain."
The findings were presented to the technical steering group representing nine federal agencies that make up that committee.
In response to the report, Sanjiv Ahuja, CEO, LightSquared, issued the following statement: "We are pleased that the statement issued by the National Space-Based PNT Executive Committee, chaired by the Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation, validates LightSquared's compatibility with the nation's 300 million cellular phones. While we are eager to continue to work with the FAA on addressing the one remaining issue regarding terrain avoidance systems, we profoundly disagree with the conclusions drawn with respect to general navigation devices."
The company maintains that it is the GPS receivers that are at fault, not the LightSquared system. It's the key point of controversy between the company and providers of GPS equipment and services including farm equipment firms.
Ahuja also says the company has "taken extraordinary measures - at extraordinary expense - to solve a problem that is not of our making. We continue to believe that LightSquared and GPS can co-exist. And we will continue to work with the federal government on a solution that will allow us to begin investing $14 billion in private money into the infrastructure of America to create jobs, competition and increased access to technology to the nation."
The report results started leaking out earlier this week, which angered LightSquared. The company says the report estimated power levels as much as 15 times those guaranteed by the company.
The preliminary report is still under review and the final analysis of the findings will be completed and a final report will be sent to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration along with the Federal Communications Commission.
A few key issues still to be worked out include the interference, if there would be a need for added filters for existing farm GPS equipment (and GPS tools for other uses), and who would pay for any modifications.