June 27, 2011
Deere & Company said that a proposal under consideration by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) jeopardizes use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) in agriculture and construction equipment.
Deere is a member of the Coalition to Save Our GPS, which, on June 22, released a study reporting the potential of a direct negative impact on the U.S. economy of $96 billion if the proposal before the FCC gains final approval. The FCC had required that the GPS industry be part of a working group to evaluate the proposal for possible interference to existing GPS systems.
“The use of GPS technology is vital to thousands of people who make their living with agricultural and construction equipment. It is not acceptable to allow interference to these important industries when there is no practical solution to mitigate the problem of interference,” said Barry Schaffter, senior vice president and chief information officer at Deere.
Schaffter said John Deere objects to the proposal on behalf of agricultural and construction equipment customers who depend on GPS systems to deliver increased productivity, lower overall cost, and reduce their operation’s environmental impact.
“Degradation of GPS signals could significantly erode the strong competitive position of U.S. farmers in the global agriculture economy,” said Schaffter. “The estimates of the negative impact for U.S. farmers range from $14 to $30 billion annually. GPS technology is also very important to many construction contractors. Ensuring continued use of an accurate Global Positioning System is vital for these industries.”
Schaffter said it is important to note that John Deere is in favor of additional broadband services for rural America, which could be one of the outcomes of the current proposal before the FCC. However, he added, allowing a plan to interfere with existing GPS usage is not an acceptable way to meet the broadband needs.
The use of GPS technology in agriculture helps farmers improve their accuracy in the use of seed, fertilizer, and fuel. In addition, the use of GPS technology allows farmers to collect data that leads to increased crop yields.
Interfering with GPS signals in large agricultural areas could increase food costs for the general public and decrease the likelihood that U.S. farmers can contribute significantly to meeting the demand for increased food production to feed a growing world population.
In construction, GPS technologies assist owners in maintaining equipment, lowering fuel costs, and providing a means to better design and manage large construction projects such as buildings, highways, and shopping centers.
The proposal in question sets out to create a new, integrated wireless broadband and satellite network that would deploy 40,000 ground stations in the U.S. and proposes to use a portion of the satellite spectrum that already has been in use for other purposes.
Deere is among many companies in several industries that say the proposal interferes with the GPS signals vital to their customers. Research studies have supported that assertion. Deere believes there is no practical solution to avoid or substantially mitigate the interference caused by the proposed new system.
Deere notes that the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing, which is a U.S. government organization, has recently released a technical study concluding that the FCC should rescind its conditional approval for the proposal because of the significant detrimental impacts to all government and commercial GPS applications assessed as part of the study.