GPS interference poses major threat to U.S. economy


More than 3.3 million U.S. jobs in agriculture and
industries rely on Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and the
disruption of interference with GPS posed by LightSquared’s planned deployment
of 40,000 ground stations threatens direct economic costs of up to $96 billion
to U.S. commercial GPS users and manufacturers, according to a study.


The study by Dr. Nam D. Pham of the Washington, D.C.-based
NDP Consulting Group warns of “serious economic repercussions for the U.S.
economy” if LightSquared’s plans proceed and points out that the $96
billion economic figure represents the equivalent of 0.7 percent of the U.S.
economy. The $96 billion figure is the total of up to $87.2 billion in costs to
commercial GPS users and up to $8.8 billion in costs to commercial GPS
manufacturers. The commercial benefits of GPS are largely enabled by high
precision GPS technologies.


The study states that the commercial adoption of GPS
continues to grow at a high rate and is expected to annually create $122.4
billion in benefits and grow to directly affect more than 5.8 million jobs in
the downstream commercial GPS-intensive


The study makes clear that its analysis is confined to
the economic benefits of GPS technology to commercial GPS users and GPS
manufacturers, mainly high precision GPS users, and the economic costs of GPS
signal degradation to only those sectors.  The report therefore does not
capture the considerable benefits and costs to consumer users of GPS, other non-commercial
users and military users.


The analysis shows that GPS equipment revenues in North
America in the 2005-2010 time period averaged $33.5 billion per year and that
commercial sales accounted for 25 percent of the total, while the consumer and
military markets respectively made up 59 percent and 16 percent of the total.
The report notes that the U.S. government has already invested $35 billion in
taxpayer money in the GPS satellite constellation and continues to invest in
GPS at a rate of about $1 billion a year.


Referring to LightSquared’s plans, the report states,
“The commercial stakes are high. The downstream industries that rely on
professional and high precision GPS technology for their own business
operations would face serious disruption to their operations should
interference occur, and U.S. leadership and innovation would suffer.”


The analysis and views in the study, which was
commissioned by the Coalition to Save Our GPS,
are solely those of the author, Dr. Pham, a managing partner of NDP
Consulting Group who was formerly a Scudder Kemper Investments vice president,
chief economist of the Asia region for Standard & Poor’s DRI and World Bank


“The use of GPS technology is vital to thousands of
people who make their living with agricultural and construction equipment. It
is simply not acceptable to allow this new network to interfere with these
important industries when all indications are that there is no practical
solution to mitigate this interference. In agriculture, the loss of a stable
GPS system could have an impact of anywhere from $14 to $30 billion each year.
That could significantly erode the strong competitive global position of U.S.
farmers in the world agricultural economy. Serious impacts to the productivity
of those in the construction business also will be apparent,” said Ken
Golden, director, global public relations, John Deere.


By Team

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