Bill Would Help Protect Against Cost of GPS Interference

Erin Anthony

Director, Communications

photo credit: Getty

Newly introduced legislation backed by Farm Bureau and several dozen organizations representing a broad range of interests would help ensure farmers, ranchers and the many others who rely on GPS would not have to pay to correct any interference created by Ligado Networks’ operation on the broadband spectrum.

The Recognizing and Ensuring Taxpayer Access to Infrastructure Necessary for GPS and Satellite Communications Act (RETAIN GPS and Satellite Communications Act) was spurred by a 2020 Federal Communications Commission decision to allow Ligado, a satellite communications company, to provide 5G services.

Ligado’s planned use of its spectrum is so near bands used by GPS, it could diminish the reception capability of GPS devices. This is a major problem for farmers and ranchers, who rely on precision agriculture technology and GPS so their farms and ranches can be more efficient, economical and environmentally responsible.

It would also put at risk GPS services used by the military and other national defense agencies, aviation safety agencies, mapping applications and many others.

“The RETAIN GPS and Satellite Communications Act acknowledges the harm to GPS and satellite communications end users caused by the Ligado order and ensures the burden of cost sits squarely where it belongs—on Ligado, rather than our first responders, farmers, pilots, boat owners, surveyors or construction companies. We commend you for recognizing the expense and burden the Ligado order places on federal agencies, American taxpayers, businesses and consumers, and for providing clear and immediate relief to critical stakeholders with this legislation,” the groups wrote to the bill’s sponsors, Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).

The 80-plus organizations that signed the letter represent the aviation, aerospace, agriculture, GPS, ground transportation, mapping, marine, public safety, satellite communications and surveying industries and professions.