Deere Says LightSquared Will Interfere With Farm Equipment

Jun 23 2011 | 8:04am ET

Harbinger Capital Partners’ wireless broadband venture says it can reduce interference with global positioning systems for 99.5% of all GPS receivers in the U.S., but Deere & Co. said yesterday the venture will still interfere with agricultural equipment.

LightSquared, which accounts for some 60% of Harbinger’s holdings, proposed using a different spectrum of frequencies generally restricted to satellite users. Previous tests using the previously proposed spectrum showed significant impact on GPS systems.

“The LightSquared proposition would degrade most of our GPS receivers and their capability of helping the farmer in precision agriculture, as far away as 22 miles,” said Deere spokesman Ken Golden during a conference call with reporters.

LightSquared received preliminary approval from the Federal Communications Commission in January but must submit a report on interference by July 1 to get final clearance.

“There are still solutions that need to be reached for precision GPS receivers,” Martin Harriman, a LightSquared executive vice president, told Bloomberg. “We just need to be able to sit down together, work cooperatively, and figure out what the fixes are.”

Golden, however, says Deere sees no solution, “The technical solutions aren’t there at this time.”

Despite the current uncertainty, LightSquared has struck a crucial deal with Sprint Nextel to help build and operate the network. Sprint will also be a major customer.

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