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  • Writer's pictureDAVID MITLYNG

Weekly Takeaways-September 20, 2022

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Theme of the Week

Going Nowhere Fast For two decades we have been waiting for a replacement for GPS. When the infamous Volpe Report came out in 2001, GPS was already deemed critical but vulnerable. In the two decades since there have been nothing but talk. And studies. And lots of hand wringing. Everyone else is moving on. Russia, China, and Europe have their own (possibly better) GPS. With their own system, they don’t think twice about jamming, spoofing, or threatening GPS with missiles. Spurred on by Russia's sabre rattling in particular, there is finally momentum. For one, there is funding to build a replacement (though it may be geared toward military needs). There is also a convergence of technology to build something much better. But there is also a pent-up market need. For all the talk about self-driving vehicles, 6G, and quantum networks, they will not happen with GPS. Something better is needed. Last Week's Theme: Freedom to Grow

Industry News

  • There has long been concern that Ligado Networks plans to launch with spectrum that is adjacent to the GPS frequencies, potentially causing interference. To assess this concern, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) released a report claiming "that most receivers used for civil aviation, general navigation, timing, or cellular purposes will not experience “significant harmful interference”...However, the report admits, some will be affected."

  • The DOT has been steadily monitoring GPS interference reports of maritime GPS interference.

  • The Space Development Agency (SDA) is working with the Department of Defense to develop the National Defense Space Architecture Experimental Testbed (NExT) initiative. This could lead to the launch of test of government-furnished alternative PNT payloads in 2024.

  • To prepare for any electronic warfare including satellite jamming, the Space Force is developing "Black Skies" and "Red Skies" training exercises.

  • The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program remains at risk of being defunded by the end of the month. This despite a 2019 Defense Department study that found that SBIR funds delivered a "22-to-1 return on investment, $28 billion in sales to the military and $347 billion in economic impact over 23 years."

💼 Conferences

The More You Know...

Recently the Department of Transportation (DOT) hosted a Complementary PNT Industry Roundtable. The goals of the roundtable were laid out in the opening remarks: "Critical infrastructure sectors such as communication, banking, the electric grid, and dams rely on the promise of improved accuracy and resilience of PNT technologies...We also know as GPS technology advances, the number of threats to the system increase and we need to take the bullseye off of GPS." But the industry representatives weren't impressed. "They have been studying this for over twenty years. The Volpe report came out in 2001. And there have been lots of studies since then. All have just been refinements of those original findings.”


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