The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


FCC blocks LightSquared proposal

The Federal Communications Commission has announced it will block the planned development of a nationwide wireless network by communications company LightSquared over concerns that it cannot be fixed to coexist with global positioning systems.
Steve Wellman

Steve Wellman
American Soybean Association President Steve Wellman, a Syracuse, Neb., farmer, said the decision, announced Tuesday, is “a great relief for more than 600,000 soybean farmers across the country,” noting that the LightSquared network would have rendered farmers’ investments in GPS systems “all but useless.”

Farmers use GPS technology to precision-apply seed and fertilizer, Wellman said, as well as to test fields for fertility, monitor yields, reduce chemical and fuel use, and map field boundaries, roads and irrigation systems.

Wellman added that LightSquare’s efforts underscore the pressing need for better broadband service in rural America, and that the broadband service must allow the use of precision agricultural GPS systems.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said the FCC’s decision to withdraw preliminary approval showed that the agency had engaged “in a rushed process.”

Grassley said the FCC has refused to provide him requested documents and that Congress should determine “why the FCC did what it did.”