WASHINGTON— House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) today held a full committee hearing to examine the impact on small businesses that may result from LightSquared’s use of its spectrum to provide broadband service near the Global Positioning System (GPS). Small businesses, including farmers, construction contractors, surveyors, and the general aviation industry, rely on the accuracy of GPS. Potential interference with GPS raises significant concerns to these small companies.
“Increasing broadband to underserved and rural areas is a noble goal and only makes sense in this rapidly advancing technological world. However, we must find a solution to increase wireless broadband without jeopardizing currently established GPS systems and further burdening small businesses.
“Interference of the GPS signal will cost American small businesses billions of dollars to retrofit their GPS devices. This alone is an enormous burden that could harm or impair their business. From land surveyors to family farmers to thousands of other businesses— a huge segment of our economy will be affected. But this is about more than the cost, it is also about safety. Pilots rely heavily on GPS to maneuver their planes— so above all, we must ensure that safety is not compromised.
“I am hopeful that we can find a solution that will not interfere with GPS, while still increasing wireless broadband nationwide. However, we are not there yet. It is clear from our small business witnesses that further analysis and tests for all GPS devices are needed before LightSquared moves forward. This Committee will be following the issue closely to make sure there are no added costs for small business GPS users and that safety remains of utmost importance.”
For related hearing documents, click here.
Notable Witness Quotes:
Dennis B. Boykin IV, Managing Principal at DB4 Consulting in LLC Leesburg, VA, said, “LightSquared claims that Javad GNSS has produced a filter that will magically solve the problem. [Not] only has this filter not been approved by the FAA yet, here’s a thought: Javad has absolutely no experience in aviation, so don’t count on them having a viable product ready to fit my Garmin high-precision, WAAS-enabled receivers anytime soon.” He went on to say, “There is absolutely no reason to create this risk to life and property, just for their profits.”
Rick Greene, Precision Agronomy Manager at MFA Incorporated in Columbia, MO., discussed the economic impact LightSquared would have on the agriculture industry, “It will take 10-15 years to complete a normal replacement cycle and affects up to $10 billion in equipment. Even if the Javad filter ($300 - $800) works, implanting it to the 1 million receivers will cost $300 to $800 million which doesn’t include the additional personnel, installation and down-time. It’s like saying that because Chevy has an all-electric car on the market we can shut down every gas station in the U.S. next year or all analog TV’s need to be replaced the day the digital switch was turned on.”
Tim Taylor, President & CEO of FreeFlight Systems in Irving, TX, said, “The idea that a new entrant into the marketplace can arbitrarily introduce a product that immediately compromises aviation safety and security, while expecting the aviation industry to design, manufacture, test, certify and install an aviation compliant filter, is simply not realistic.”
CLICK HERE to view the raw video of the hearing.
CLICK HERE to view the C-SPAN video of the hearing.