AEM, John Deere warn of damaging GPS interference

24 June 2011

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) has called on the US Department of Transportation to intervene over proposals to introduce a new wireless network that it claims jeopardises current Global Positioning Systems (GPS) used in construction machinery.

US equipment manufacturer John Deere also opposes plans by LightSquared to transmit ground-based radio signals that would be one billion times more powerful as received on earth than GPS satellite signals.

They are concerned that the strength of the ground-based signals and their proximity to GPS signals in the electromagnetic spectrum could potentially cause widespread and severe interference to existing GPS receivers.

In a letter to US transport secretary Ray LaHood, AEM president Dennis Slater said, "Any interference with these signals would be extremely disruptive to the many benefits GPS has brought to construction sites".

And Barry Schaffter, senior vice president and chief information officer at John Deere, described the use of GPS technology as 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," Mr Schaffter said.

The Coalition To Save Our GPS - a group of companies, including John Deere, that have come together to lobby against LightSquared's plans - claims that the LightSquared system could cost the US economy US$ 96 billion if it goes online.

LightSquared has highlighted the fact that it is working with the US Global Positioning System Industry Council and that a condition of its license is to work with interested parties to identify and study interference concerns.

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