Back in "the good old days" we had to learn how to read a map when going on a road trip and that wasn't even the hardest thing about it. The hardest thing came when you had to re-fold the map!
Now, we punch a couple of buttons on our compact Global Positioning System, or GPS as it's known, and this compact device tells us exactly how to get where we're going.
Once top secret and used only by the military, GPS systems are now available to anyone at a relatively inexpensive price and many people have learned to rely on them.
Consumers now use GPS-enabled devices everyday in their cars and on their cell phones and other hand-held devices as navigational tools.
The agriculture community relies on GPS for precision planting in order to increase crop yields.
Public safety depends on GPS technology daily because first responders such as law enforcement, fire fighters, and emergency medical personnel rely on it to provide critical instant location and route information.
GPS receivers are used in thousands of aircraft for navigation and landing instrumentation. GPS also plays a critical role in the FAA Next Generation Air Transportation System, which will modernize air traffic control systems.
The U.S. building, construction, and civil engineering industry has made large investments in the use of GPS technology to modernize and automate construction sites, machines and processes.
Any interference to GPS could have a far-reaching and detrimental impact across our state and nation. As high-powered communication networks continue expanding, the government must make sure GPS isn't disrupted or degraded because it's an essential utility to millions of Americans.
It's technical and it's complicated but it's extremely important that we protect the nation's GPS network that the vast majority of Nebraskans and people nationwide have come to rely on.
Last summer Senator Pat Roberts and I sent a letter, co-signed by 31 other senators from both parties, to the chairman of the FCC, asking that all assurances be made that a waiver granted to LightSquared, a satellite broadband company that was looking to enhance its mobile network, would not cause harmful interference to GPS receivers and users.
Because of concerns raised by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration after multiple tests were conducted that showed significant interference caused by LightSquared's signals on GPS equipment operability, the FCC gave us a gift on Valentine's Day when it revoked the company's application for a conditional waiver to begin operations.
Providing additional broadband capabilities is a commendable goal; it just shouldn't be done by interfering with other established systems like GPS that so many people now rely on in their daily lives. My hat is off to the FCC for listening to our concerns and protecting GPS users.