Lightsquared LTE plan could affect local Best GPS 2011 users

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Local crop consultants are concerned about a recently approved broadband Internet system called "Lightsquared LLC" which allegedly would compromise local GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) signals.

"The issue we are going to run into is the bandwidth they use is going to be so similar to common to GPS, that you won't be able to use Garmin's for your car or ag GPS or any of the other stuff we use," explained Chris Meyer, a sales and service representative with Central Missouri Agr-Service of Marshall. He described it as being like a local radio station signal, which can block listeners from picking up a similar signal farther away.

According to a letter from Jeff Leonard, director of member services of the Missouri Agri-Business Association, the FCC has "granted a waiver to LightSquared, but has opened a comment period that followed a report by an FCC Working Group."

He said the FCC comment period "was only opened last week and will close on July 30th."

In his letter he urged Certified Crop Advisors to submit comments and gave a SaveOurGPS Coalition website at

According to Meyer, the company backing Lightsquared would be able to sell a product to local people who use GPS, to block the internet signal.

"They want you to spend additional money with them, because they are going to be the ones to design this box to put on your GPS signal so you can continue to use that product," he said.

At CMAS, they have used GPS for about 10 years and now use it "everyday."

"It's going to impact us pretty heavy," he said. "Anytime we are spraying, all our machines use it."

In addition, the EPA uses the maps CMAS generates to from spraying and fertilizing local fields to monitor applications.

"If we were to get audited or something, that's what they would show them," he said.

He estimated that at least 60 percent of Saline County farmers also use some kind of GPS.

Some of the uses on the farm include generating yield, planting and spray maps. It is used to precisely place seeds, chemicals and fertilizers. That not only saves money for the farmer, but helps protect against over-application and run-off.

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