A threat to the Global Position System (GPS) has reemerged, and the Assn. of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) is joining together with several other groups to lead the effort to defeat it again.

In 2011, LightSquared proposed to create a satellite based wireless internet network. While a noble goal on paper, as planned, it would interfere with access to GPS. Dangers to this foundational technology, which is critical to precision agriculture and the future of construction, should not be allowed. AEM did not stand alone as a broad coalition rallied farmers to U.S. Air Force generals to successfully bury the LightSquared project.

Nine years later, LightSquared has emerged from the graveyard of bankruptcy with a new name, Ligado. Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) surprised most observers with a decision to allow Ligado to move forward with a revised plan to create a wireless network. Unfortunately, Ligado’s proposal still utilizes a signal that bumps up against GPS’ spectrum. With positioning technology more critical than ever, AEM is working diligently to prevent this from impacting farmers, builders, and others who depend on a reliable GPS signal.

AEM recently filed a joint petition with the American Farm Bureau Federation and American Road & Transportation Builders Assn. asking the FCC to reconsider their Ligado decision. Additionally, we are reaching out to Administration officials in various agencies, urging them to voice their concerns with the FCC.

AEM is also working to focus congressional opposition to pressure the FCC to reverse the Ligado decision, and, if necessary, encouraging them to take direct legislative action to stop its implementation.  AEM, as a leader of the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC), sent a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.), sharing their apprehension over the FCC’s decision. The letter reads, “We do not object to the goals of increasing wireless data capacity and competition for 5G, but the expedition of the permit granted to Ligado is not the way to accomplish these goals. The risks to GPS far outweigh the incremental benefits gained from allowing Ligado to move forward.

AEM’s Advocacy team continues its work with industry partners to ensure the FCC, the Administration and Congress understand how important it is to stay the decision indefinitely.

For more information about AEM’s work on the issue, contact Nick Tindall, senior director of regulatory affairs & ag policy at ntindall@aem.org or Kate Fox Wood, senior director of government relations at kfoxwood@aem.org.