Well, we continue to monitor the Lightsquared vs. GPS situation very closely on the Network, and it was a busy couple of weeks in the continuing regulatory saga that’s been keeping all of us in agriculture (and every other industry that utilizes high accuracy GPS) in suspense.
Fortunately, there have been several well written stories providing all of the torrid details. So in an effort to present this in a format that fits both the busy precision ag practitioner and the folks who can’t get enough information, here’s the shorthand story featuring links with additional information and perspective.
If you need some basic background, check these links back to stories we did here on the network:
Overview story, July 2011
Story From Close of FCC Comment Period, August 2011
Rick Greene of MFA Inc. Testifies on Industry's Behalf
As for recent history, here’s what happened;
- This past summer, the Lightsquared vs. GPS battle went under a cease fire when the FCC agreed to conduct additional testing to either confirm or defeat claims that Lightsquared’s signal would interfere with a GPS receiver’s ability to pick up GPS signals uncorrupted.
- NTIA, defined on its website as "the Executive Branch agency that is principally responsible for advising the President on telecommunications and information policy issues," was set to release a report this week detailing the government's findings on interference testing with Lightsquared broadcasts. However, last week information leaked out that the testing showed Lightsquared’s signal did indeed interfere with the GPS signal. This article from CNET explains what happened well.
- Lightsquared expressed outrage that the findings were leaked, saying that the tests were flawed, the NTIA did not follow Lightsquared’s recommendations, and that information selected and leaked provide a skewed view of the research.Here’s a link to some perspective on that story, once again from CNET.
- At the same time, PCWorld reported that Lightsquared has proposed some technological concessions to the FCC to, in its view, reduce the potential for GPS disturbance. That story is here.
- I found a fascinating blog entry from a site called Hot Air, which details a Lightsquared effort to lobby legislators in the state of Minnesota. Why Minnesota? Because it is the headquarters of Best Buy, which has a contract to sell Lightsquared wireless Internet service should it ever come to fruition. Check out the whole story here, and a shout out to some outstanding...
I can’t get in the heads of the folks from Lightsquared, nor can I access their texts, but it sure looks like a case of “when the science fails you, reach for the politics.” They are powerful folks with deep pockets and deep investments in this plan. Keep talking to those folks in Congress and remind them what GPS means to agriculture.
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: A joint release from the Departments of Transportation and Defense indicate significant GPS interference from Lightsquared: Check it out here.