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AGC Seeks to Protect GPS Signals that Guide Construction Equipment

From mapping construction sites to locating utilities to preventing equipment theft GPS technology has become an effective and efficient tool for the construction industry. But the high-precision GPS used by the industry could be disrupted by a new broadband system.

Because of these concerns AGC of America has joined an industry group called the “Coalition to Save Our GPS” which was organized to protect existing GPS receivers from the possibility of interference from the development of a strong signaled wireless broadband system being established by a company called LightSquared. LightSquared has petitioned and received a conditional permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to expand use of the Mobile Satellite Spectrum (MSS) immediately adjacent to GPS spectrum. The Coalition was formed because studies have shown that the LightSquared system can cause severe interference with millions of GPS receivers currently in use.

Global Positioning System (GPS) manufacturers however have found that the new network would create interference with existing GPS signals significantly disrupting high-precision GPS used on construction equipment aircraft and in other applications. The Coalition includes equipment manufacturers users and other businesses that rely on an accurate and reliable GPS signal in their operations.

In a letter to Transportation Secretary Roy LaHood AGC of America and its partners said “Increasingly the technology is used to map and survey construction sites including the location of buried and overhead utilities facilitate precision grading and enhance material application. It is also used to prevent theft of construction equipment and provide real-time monitoring for equipment maintenance. This GPS technology helps improve worker safety reduces project delays reduces fuel consumption and produces a more efficient worksite. Any interference with these signals would be extremely disruptive to the many benefits GPS has brought to construction sites.”

On June 23 the House Appropriations Committee included an amendment to the fiscal 2012 Financial Services spending bill that would hinder LightSquared’s plan. The amendment would prevent the FCC from implementing a January 26 conditional waiver that would allow LightSquared to construct its network which includes 40000 ground stations. The FCC initiated a study to look into the claims of both sides in the dispute. The 750-page report was released on Thursday June 30 and can be found here.

The issue will continue to play out with the FCC taking public comment on this report. For an in-depth Associated Press article on the controversy click here.

For more information contact Brian Deery of AGC of America (703) 837-5319.

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