Thompson, House Agriculture Committee colleagues question FCC broadband decision

July 13, 2020
In The News

U.S. Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) last week spearheaded a bipartisan query into the impact the pending deployment of a terrestrial nationwide network to provide 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) services would have on the nation’s precision agriculture industry.

“GPS technology has revolutionized the agriculture industry for decades, bolstering efficiency, providing substantial economic impact, and slashing operating costs,” Rep. Thompson said on July 9. “To ensure there are no unnecessary disruptions to production, our farmers deserve the peace of mind that comes with reliable 5G service.”

Specifically, Rep. Thompson and his U.S. House Agriculture Committee colleagues, U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and James Comer (R-KY), sent a recent letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai questioning him about the FCC order adopted on April 19 granting an application by American satellite communications company Ligado Networks to facilitate 5G and IoT services on the L-Band.

Numerous federal agencies and lawmakers contend that the new network threatens the reliability of GPS for millions of Americans, including farmers and ranchers who rely on precision technologies, according to Rep. Thompson’s office.

“America’s farmers and ranchers rely on precision agriculture technology and GPS so their farms and ranches can be more efficient, economical and environmentally responsible,” said Scott VanderWal, vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Expanding broadband access is a top priority for the Farm Bureau but not at the expense of losing the accuracy of GPS.”

Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, agreed that the FCC’s Ligado Order jeopardizes millions of devices. “Our nation’s farmers, contractors and consumers depend on the equipment our industry builds and on a reliable GPS connection to plant, harvest, construct, and move goods,” he said. “That’s why we strongly support the bipartisan action taken today by Reps. Thompson, Peterson, and Comer and other members of the Ag Committee to address this threat by correcting that decision.”