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  • Weekly Takeaways-January 11,2023

    Theme of the Week ...Looking Forward GPS has been a cornerstone for the modern world for nearly four decades. All financial transactions, communications, data centers and power grids rely on timing from GPS. And that will continue – GPS and other GNSS systems are critical for global navigation and timing. But there are future needs that they cannot address: 6G networks that require tight synchronization “to make far more efficient use of spectrum." Self-driving cars, flying taxis, and delivery drones cruising effortlessly through large cities. Precise indoor navigation and timing for manufacturing and delivery robots. Position sensors accurate enough for early tsunami and earthquake warning. Weather detection using RF signals delays caused by water vapor in the air. Quantum networks that may one day entangle quantum computers. Accurate, traceable, and verifiable time stamps for financial transactions. A lunar GPS network to support manned missions to the moon. Deep space missions including detection of dark matter. Satellites in tight formation flying for scientific and communication missions. It's 2023 and the future beckons. Last Week's Theme: Looking Back… Industry News The race for broadband-speed 6G networks is underway. China reportedly leads other countries in 6G patents and has over 2M 5G base stations compared to 100,000 in the US. And they will need better synchronization "to coordinate the sharing of frequency bands in real-time, rather than relying on guard time and guard bands (the buffer zones between different chunks of spectrum).” The Q-NEXT quantum research center's recent ​“A Roadmap for Quantum Interconnects” report outlines the research and scientific discoveries needed to develop the technologies for distributing quantum information on a 10- to 15-year timescale. The US $1.7T 2023 spending bill “includes the highest research and development-driving budget in the Pentagon’s history and billions in additional funds to accelerate the military’s adoption of cutting-edge capabilities” The moon also needs its own GPS system, and the Aerospace Corporation and Space Systems Command have ideas. Pitchbook’s 2023 US Venture Capital Outlook noted that fundraising hit records in 2022, “surpassing 2021's figure in just three quarters…Dry powder remains extremely high, but dealmaking has continuously slowed on a quarterly basis throughout the year.” Meanwhile The Quantum Insider prepared their assessment of quantum investments in 2022 and quantum predictions for 2023. If you suffered from travel delays over the holidays, there is hope that future quantum computers could one day help in “untangling operational disruptions.” Conferences Time and Money Conference, January 17, New York, New York Photonics West and Quantum West, January 28 - February 2, San Francisco, CA Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, March 13 - 16, Vancouver, Canada Satellite 2023, March 13 - 16, Washington DC Space Symposium, April 17 - 20, Colorado Springs, CO The More You Know... Recently Russia has expanded their jamming of GPS into Russia and Moscow in the light of drone attacks. This is wreaking havoc with commercial flights and portends further escalation as the conflict drags on. When Russia originally invaded, they also expected easy disruption of Ukraine's communication networks. But they didn’t count on the resiliency of commercial satellite systems. Starlink, in particular, has been resilient to Russia’s cyber-attacks with their “ability to quickly update the system’s software.” And threats of attacks using anti-satellite missiles “would also be a lot less useful against a constellation like Starlink than against older systems. Knocking out a single Starlink would achieve more or less nothing. If you want to damage the space-based bit of the system, you need to get rid of lots of them.”

  • Weekly Takeaways-December 23,2022

    Theme of the Week The North Pole needs Quantum Scientists Santa has a problem. To efficiently deliver presents to 200 million homes in one day requires some serious planning! This is the traveling salesman problem. Let’s say the naughty-to-nice threshold is really high, so only four children get presents. Even with only four stops there are still 28 different routes Santa can take. Calculating an optimal path gets exponentially harder as more stops are added. This is beyond the capability of today’s computers, but fortunately for Santa (and other delivery companies) this might one day be solved by future quantum computers. Santa also needs a very precise clock - after all, a few microsecond error leads to missed targets when traveling at 1560 km per second. Good luck Santa! Last Week's Theme: Did You Know? Industry News A new US Department of Defense (DoDO report outlines concerns about China’s ability to “conduct jamming and anti-jamming operations against…Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite systems during force-on-force exercises,” noting that China “has also launched multiple anti-satellite (ASAT) missiles that are able to destroy satellites and developed mobile jammer to deny SATCOM and GPS.” A DoD official also claimed that China is expected to develop an ASAT weapon "targeting Geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) systems,” and “extensive electronic warfare capabilities intended to deny satellite communications, radar systems, and GPS navigation, and it’s developing laser weapons to dazzle sensors and potentially destroy satellite components.” The Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act was signed into law. It will help prepare agencies and companies develop “encryption strong enough to resist attacks from quantum computers developed in the future.” New reports emerged of GPS signals being disrupted in Russian cities as a response to drone attacks, “suspected Russian hackers lurking inside a U.S. satellite network,” and cyber attacks of energy grids. Q-NEXT, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Quantum Information Science Research Center, released “A Roadmap for Quantum Interconnects.” Conferences Time and Money Conference, January 17, New York, New York Photonics West and Quantum West, January 28 - February 2, San Francisco, CA Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, March 13 - 16, Vancouver, Canada Satellite 2023, March 13 - 16, Washington DC Space Symposium, April 17 - 20, Colorado Springs, CO The More You Know... In addition to the solving problems like the efficient delivery of gifts, Inside Quantum Technology has explored other interesting quantum technology use cases for: Loans. mortgages, and the world of finance The automotive industry Detecting cancerous tumors Rooting out deepfakes The space industry Physicists even "purportedly created the first-ever wormhole" with a quantum computer. But before you get excited "this isn't a bona fide traversable wormhole." But as we assess the future that quantum technology could unlock, it is worth thinking about “what is meaningful for society in the long term.”

  • Weekly Takeaways-June 21-2022

    Theme of the Week Frozen in Time When GPS was first made available to the commercial world it offered a timing accuracy of 40 nanoseconds. This timing accuracy enabled early 4G LTE networks. Now, twenty years later, the timing accuracy has improved slightly to 30 nanoseconds. This is barely adequate for 5G networks. And it comes with a caveat: "This performance standard assumes the use of a specialized time transfer receiver at a fixed location." (Note: specialized = expensive). But 6G networks, efficient data centers, and quantum networks need better timing accuracy. Unfortunately, there are no plans to improve GPS beyond 30 nanoseconds. A new solution is needed. Last Week's Theme: "Assume You can be Jammed" Industry News How easy is it to jam a GPS signal? Very. And if you ever wanted to spoof (alter) the GPS time signal, here’s your instructional video from the same group that explains how to detect GPS spoofing. Chinese automaker Geely launched the first nine satellites of a 240-satellite position, navigation, and timing (PNT) constellation called the Geely Future Mobility Constellation. It is designed to "provide centimetre accurate precise positioning and connectivity support for use by automotive brands in the Geely Holding portfolio, enabling true, safe autonomous driving." The Heritage Foundation released a report “Meeting China’s Space Challenge” reviewing the Chinese five year plan for a “Space Silk Road” outlined in “China’s Space Program: A 2021 Perspective.” Two US Senators have introduced the “American Technology Leadership Act of 2022” with the intent of establishing an “Office of Global Competition Analysis.” A massive solar flare sideswiped Earth last week, raising concerns that a direct hit could lead to an “internet apocalypse.” So what happens if GPS goes dark? The Pentagon is working on it - but only for the military. The Chicago Quantum network, one of America’s first publicly-available testbeds for quantum security technology, announced it has nearly doubled to six nodes and 200 kilometers of optical fiber. Meanwhile, Quebec’s technology incubator Numana announced “the launch of a state-of-the-art quantum communications infrastructure to implement open networks for industry and researchers.” There is a lot of misinformation around quantum computers and their applications, but you can trust Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) “Quantum Algorithm Implementations for Beginners” paper. The More You Know... The Ukraine conflict has highlighted the value of commercial satellite communications. “In the hours before the invasion began on February 24, Moscow launched "AcidRain" against Viasat… a "wiper" designed to target Viasat modems and routers and erase their data before permanently disabling them.” Their expectation was that this cyber attack would wipe out the last of Ukraine's communications. But they did not count on the resiliency of Starlink and other commercial satellite operators. “Ukrainians' access to Starlink has "totally destroyed" Russian President Vladimir Putin's information campaign,” asserts Brig. Gen. Steve Butow from Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). This success has caught the notice of US officials. But China is also paying close attention. Chinese researchers recently published a paper describing ways to “disable or destroy SpaceX’s Starlink satellites if they threaten national security.” They are also working hard to build up their own space capabilities. A recent workshop led by the US Air Force, DIU, US Space Force, and NASA concluded that “China is on track to surpass the U.S. as the dominant space power as early as 2032,” and “has already surpassed the U.S. in some key areas closely related to space, e.g. quantum, hypersonics.”

  • Weekly Takeaways-September 20, 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 IEEE Quantum Week 2022, September 18 - 23, Broomfield, CO Quantum Industry Day, October 4, Zurich, Switzerland ICSO 2022, October 6 - 7, Dubrovnik, Croatia APSCC 2022, October 18 - 20, Seoul, Korea Tough Tech Summit, October 27 - 28, Boston, MA International Timing and Sync Forum, November 7 - 10, Dusseldorf, Germany Photonics West and Quantum West, January 28 - February 2, San Francisco, CA 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.”

  • Weekly Takeaways-September 28,2022

    Theme of the Week Scrubbed Once again the Artemis 1 moon mission is delayed and likely won’t launch this year. Even without a Category 4 hurricane, Artemis was supposed to launch in August. In that time they scrubbed three times while SpaceX has launched six times in Florida alone. Oh, Artemis. You never had a chance, not with such overprotective and risk-averse parents. Same with GPS. GPS satellites cost over $350M with nearly decade-long delivery schedules. A commercial company could launch multiple successive generations with that. But despite the $4.1B total price tag there are still vulnerability concerns. And the improvements are all geared towards military users; commercial time and position accuracy hasn’t changed in decades. Government agencies simply aren’t known for innovation, speed, and efficiency. Something better is needed. Last Week's Theme: Going Nowhere Fast Industry News On January 21, 2022, Air Traffic Control issued a Notice to Airman “of problems with GPS reception spanning about 8,000 square miles in the Denver area,” including interference around Denver International Airport impacting aircraft from the ground up to 40,000 feet above sea level. So what happened? The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) investigation will be released in an upcoming report “GPS Interference Happens,” and has so far announced: “the incident lasted for 33.5 hours impacts varied across infrastructures and applications; some users who were physically shielded from the interference source were able to maintain service some wireline and cellular providers who had timing backup systems were unaffected wireline and cellular providers with no backups suffered, as did some with rubidium backup clocks; the clocks drifted away from each other over the course of the outage and caused cell towers to isolate.” In response to Russia’s cyber disruptions of satellite service in Ukraine, Europe announced that they are looking to strengthen their space resilience. Starlink helped provide critical communications into Ukraine, and now are looking to provide connectivity for Iran after authorities shut down the internet. The US Senate unanimously passed a three-year re-authorization of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, so now the resolution goes to the US House of Representatives. Conferences Quantum Industry Day, October 4, Zurich, Switzerland ICSO 2022, October 6 - 7, Dubrovnik, Croatia APSCC 2022, October 18 - 20, Seoul, Korea Tough Tech Summit, October 27 - 28, Boston, MA International Timing and Sync Forum, November 7 - 10, Dusseldorf, Germany Photonics West and Quantum West, January 28 - February 2, San Francisco, CA Time and Money Conference, January, New York Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, March 13 - 16, Vancouver, Canada The More You Know... One comment we hear a lot: “Isn't GPS good enough?” All networks and power grids rely on timing from GPS; if it ever went down, the damage could be catastrophic. How bad? On January 26, 2016, we almost found out. The US spends nearly $2B a year to ensure that the catastrophic doesn’t happen. But radiation hardening and on-orbit spares can’t protect against local jamming and interference. There are over 100,000 outages reported a year in Europe alone. Jamming in Eastern Europe impacted flights out of Finland, and a recent mysterious case impacted flights out of Denver International Airport. But it remains a nice juicy target for adversaries. Because of this, many countries have already started their own sovereign GPS replacements. But what is less known: there is now a movement for GPS-independent national resilient timing systems.

  • Weekly Takeaways-October 19, 2022

    Theme of the Week Time as National Infrastructure Nobody in the early days of GPS understood how important it would be. The expectation was that it would provide position and timing for the US military. Now, nearly every person and country in the world rely on it. This reliance has alarmed government and industry officials and inspired other countries to build their own global navigation satellite systems (GNSS). What is less well-known is that many countries are building their own resilient timing networks. For example, the UK created the National Timing Centre two years ago after a review estimated that the loss of timing from a GPS outage could “impact the UK economy by over £1 billion per day.” Other countries are following suit, including China, Korea, Norway, and India. Meanwhile, in the US the telecommunication industry continues to push for a National Timing Architecture. Not only is it necessary to protect critical infrastructure, it also improves network performance: “The more precise, resilient, and stable a timing source, the more information can be moved through a given piece of spectrum. According to network engineers, “better timing equals found money.” Last Week's Theme: Scrubbed Xairos is Presenting on “Quantum Communications” at APSCC 2022. You can register here to watch live. Industry News If you are flying into Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport, be advised that a GPS outage is impacting flights. While it is too early to say, it may be related to a suspected intentional jamming event that occurred last January in Denver. Outside Ukraine and the Middle East, Norway may be the “the most jammed place on the planet." So they hosted a GPS jamming event and just published their initial results (note: it is in Norwegian). The UK-based NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) is warning of the “threat of GPS jamming, AIS spoofing, communications jamming, electronic interference and cyber-attacks” to ships in the Black Sea. SES announced the Eagle-1 Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) satellite in a partnership with the European Space Agency, while SpeQtral and Thales announced a space-based QKD partnership. The future date when quantum computers crack existing public key infrastructure is referred to as Y2Q. It is still a long time before quantum computers reach this capability, though some believe it will happen sooner than expected. In the meantime, IBM is working with Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) and Vodaphone to prepare for Y2Q and hosting industry roundtables, and NATO is developing their own Y2Q-resistant systems. A US Congressman makes the case that the US military needs to leverage commercial companies to create a metaphorical “Defense Valley.” TechCrunch asks “Is Silicon Valley really losing its crown?” Data suggests that Silicon Valley startups used to pull in nearly half of all venture funding in the US, and is now 1/3. Conferences APSCC 2022, October 18 - 20, Seoul, Korea International Timing and Sync Forum, November 7 - 10, Dusseldorf, Germany UK Quantum Technology Showcase, November 11, London, England Slush 2022, November 17 - 18, Helsinki, Finland Time and Money Conference, January 17, New York,New York Photonics West and Quantum West, January 28 - February 2, San Francisco, CA Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, March 13 - 16, Vancouver, Canada The More You Know... The 2022 Nobel prize in physics has been jointly awarded to three titans of quantum physics, Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger. These scientists “performed experiments utilizing entangled photons to resolve a long-standing debate in the early history of quantum mechanics." Entanglement as a consequence of quantum mechanics was pointed out and elaborated on by Albert Einstein and colleagues in the famous 1935 EPR paper. But Einstein found the idea of nonlocal entanglement, the so-called “spooky action at a distance”, deeply problematic since, while it doesn't directly violate relativity, it certainly violates the spirit of local influences and causes at the conceptual heart of relativity. Because of this Einstein favored the idea that a local hidden variable was at work such that quantum mechanics was an incomplete description of reality resulting from an averaging over these local hidden variables. Nearly 30 years later, the physicist John Stewart Bell derived a mathematical relation, known as the Bell inequality, that demonstrated that any such local hidden variable theory could not reproduce all of the predictions of quantum mechanics. Thus, Bell's theorem said it was possible in principle to experimentally test if the actual world corresponds to the predictions of quantum mechanics or of some deeper theory that uses local, hidden variables. What seemed to be a philosophical question was now potentially an experimental one. However, "Bell’s inequality, while massively significant as a theoretical construct, was not at first of much use experimentally; the result itself of a thought experiment, it couldn’t be squared with practical detector technology. The three 2022 physics laureates found ways to circumvent those difficulties, and to advance studies of entanglement firmly into the realm of experimental science." It is important to note that all of the progress that has been made in quantum information science and quantum technologies owes a huge debt to all of these pioneers that dared to seriously ask such a fundamental question about reality, and who were not dissuaded by accusations of the worthlessness of their research by many of their influential contemporaries. To learn more, please email us.

  • Weekly Takeaways-Halloween 2022

    David Mitlyng Theme of the Week A Modern Horror Story - Part 1 Last Halloween we presented a true-life scary tale: You wake up. Emergency and rescue radios are down. Your location app is offline and planes are grounded worldwide. You attempt to go shopping, but the credit card isn't working. The ATM is down, too. As the day progresses both cell and internet service is lost, stores and restaurants are closed, and you can't even get gas. By the next morning the power is out. The cause? GPS is down. Like any good horror story, here come's the sequel: A Modern Horror Story - Part 2 Unfortunately, this doomsday scenario seems closer than ever. Since then the Russia rolled into Ukraine and promptly started jamming GPS. They launched anti-satellite missiles and threatened to blow up GPS and commercial satellites. Local GPS outages have grounded flights at Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport, Denver International Airport, and Finland. The fear is real and governments around the world are working to prevent this. Last Week's Theme: Time as National Infrastructure Industry News As mentioned previously, GPS interference caused the FAA to reroute DFW air traffic. The nearly two day outage prompted the closure of a runway and has stumped experts. The war in Ukraine has allowed commercial space companies to provide critical support, including satellite imagery and communication links. Russia has responded with cyberattacks, jamming, and even threats to blow up commercial satellites. Two European Commission-sponsored quantum network initiatives were announced: the Quantum Internet Alliance and the HYPERSPACE research project. A couple of articles look at the impact of quantum computers: an article about military applications for quantum computing, and an Economist paper on commercial applications for quantum computing: “Overhyped or Underestimated: Preparing for a Quantum Future” One application for quantum computing is cracking public key infrastructure, the so-called Y2Q. The US government is taking steps to prepare, including issuing an executive order, two national security memorandums (NSM-8 and NSM-10), and the introduction of the Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act (H.R.7535). Meanwhile the Chicago Quantum Exchange hosted a voting demonstration using quantum secure communications. Quantum is endlessly fascinating but hard to understand, so be careful where you get your information. For example, maybe avoid the quantum mysticism on TikTok. 💼 Conferences International Timing and Sync Forum, November 7 - 10, Dusseldorf, Germany UK Quantum Technology Showcase, November 11, London, England Slush 2022, November 17 - 18, Helsinki, Finland Time and Money Conference, January 17, New York, New York Photonics West and Quantum West, January 28 - February 2, San Francisco, CA Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, March 13 - 16, Vancouver, Canada 🎓 The More You Know... Spooky Action at a Distance - Part 2 The famous Einstein quote "spooky action at a distance" expressed his disbelief that the apparent "non-local" action of measuring certain (entangled) quantum states was a real effect. Einstein favored the idea that hidden local variables are at work and capable of removing these non-local effects. The implication being that quantum mechanics was an incomplete description of reality that resulting from averaging over these local hidden variables. The 2022 Nobel prize in physics was awarded to scientists that are pioneers in experimentally testing the idea of local hidden variables through clever experiments utilizing entangled photons. These experiments used a mathematical relation developed by John Stewart Bell. Now known as the Bell inequality, it showed that any such hoped for local hidden variable theory could not reproduce all of the predictions of quantum mechanics. Thus, Bell's inequality said it was possible in principle to experimentally test if the actual world corresponds to the predictions of quantum mechanics or of some deeper theory that uses local, hidden variables. What seemed to be a philosophical question was now potentially an experimental one. The three newest physics laureates pioneered ways to experimentally test Bell's inequality. The results have all shown that Bell's Inequality is clearly violated, thus experimentally ruling out all physical theories using local hidden variables. The consequences of this for understanding quantum mechanics are that if we want to imagine a deeper theory that explains the outcomes of individual experiments (thus removing or explaining the fundamental randomness of quantum mechanics) then we're forced to believe in "spooky action at a distance", i.e. quantum-nonlocality. Viable alternatives to this are at least as "spooky". We can deny that quantum systems (and by extension everything​!) have properties independent of how we choose to measure them. This view implies that at least some measurements of quantum systems are acts of creation -- not merely processes to reveal preexisting information (examples are neo-Copenhagen and QBism interpretations). Our other possibility is to take the view that all possible outcomes of every quantum measurement actually do exist, but the different outcomes define (mostly independent) parallel branches of an ever-expanding universe. While we as humans can only perceive a single branch among them. This is roughly the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. Which flavor of spookiness is the "correct" way of understanding quantum mechanics? We don't yet have a way of experimentally distinguishing them. So, the quest goes on! The strange saga of Zombie Sat - Part 2 Last year we reported on the story of the infamous Galaxy 15 "Zombie Sat", a satellite that decided to stopped taking orders over a decade ago. For eight torturous months the unresponsive satellite lumbered across the GEO arc before finally rebooting. Intelsat put the satellite back in service and the zombie was re-born again. Well, in another twist in the saga, Galaxy 15 recently became a zombie once again. Rather than trying to reanimate the corpse of this satellite, this time Intelsat has decided to put it out of its misery.

  • Weekly Takeaways-December 1, 2022

    Theme of the Week Did You Know? On October 18, GPS interference wreaked havoc at Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport. The nearly two day outage prompted the closure of a runway and has stumped experts. On January 21, a similar mysterious GPS outage disrupted flights at Denver International Airport for over thirty hours. For three days around March 5, flights were disrupted in Finland due to jamming that is suspected to have originated in Russia. In June 2019 a GPS outage near Salt Lake City nearly caused a passenger airplane accident. On January 26, 2016, a simple GPS operator error shut down emergency radios and nearly crashed networks around the world. A European program over three years tracked over 450,000 reported GPS outages, of which 59,000 were suspected of being caused by deliberate interference. No, this the first you are hearing about this? That is because GPS outages are not systematically tracked, much less reported to the public. The media has started to report on Russia's jamming and threats to blow up GPS as part of their Ukraine coverage. But local outages that are disrupting travel, communications, and power grids, never make it into the news. This spurred the US National PNT Advisory Board to ask the Department of Transportation “to warn the public as soon as possible when GPS services were being disrupted.” As it stands today, there is no incentive to be responsive to commercial users. Conversely, there is no recourse for commercial users impacted by outages. A commercial alternative is needed. Last Week's Theme: A Sputnik Moment Industry News Another three GPS satellites were ordered from Lockheed for only $744M, bringing the total to $2.5B for seven latest gen GPS satellites. But even at that price point GPS is still a fragile system. Open collaboration is encouraged to develop a quantum internet, which includes working together on quantum networking test beds. In Tennessee, EPB and Qubitekk announced a test bed for “America’s first industry-led, commercially available quantum network.” In New York, Stony Brook University announced a new Quantum Internet Test Bed. And Singapore just opened a Quantum Networks Experience Centre. The sun is nearing a peak of a coronal mass ejections (CME) cycle, which have been blamed for the loss of 40 Starlink satellites and even train delays. The More You Know... Last week we highlighted how China is determined to win a new space race with the United States. Consider this: A US Space Force general warned that China "could catch up and surpass us, absolutely. The progress they've made has been stunning." China recently announced their lunar and deep space ambitions, including a permanent moon base by 2035. Meanwhile, NASA hopes to get a crew to the moon “as early as 2025 or 2026,” and Europe is planning a lunar lander “capable of routinely dispatching science payloads and cargo to the Moon throughout the 2030s.” China is the undisputed leader in satellite quantum communications. To maintain an edge in this race, US government officials are starting to look towards the commercial sector. Earlier this year the US Space Systems Command established the Commercial Services Office with the stated intention to “exploit what we have, buy what we can and only build what we must.” This also includes looking at commercial options for GPS: “We see markets emerging for alternative PNT solutions even though GPS is inherently governmental today.”

  • Weekly Takeaways-November 21, 2022

    Theme of the Week A Sputnik Moment The new space race is underway, and in many respects China has taken a lead. China is the clear leader in quantum satellites as shown in this list compiled by Russ Fein. They performed ground-breaking quantum experiments on their 2016 Micius satellite, and recently launched their third quantum satellite with more on the way. While the US has one quantum payload in orbit, it does not have a quantum link with the ground. This is well behind quantum satellites already underway in China, Europe, Singapore, Canada, and UK. At least the US is the leader in position, navigation and timing (PNT) satellites - for now. While GPS has been the PNT standard for nearly five decades, China is catching up fast. Their BeiDou constellation of “24 MEO satellites, three Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites, and three Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO) satellites" may offer “global decimeter-level positioning and navigation” and “underwater, indoor and deep space coverage.” This is better than GPS, which is accurate to 2 meters (20 decimeters) in open sky conditions. But clearly the US has a plan to keep up - right? Last Week's Theme: A Modern Horror Story Achievements Thank you Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) and Business Finland for the opportunity to join the Colorado quantum delegation to Finland! Great chance to explore collaboration opportunities with the Finnish quantum community. Industry News China released a "China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System in the New Era” white paper that claims that BeiDou “has been built into a world-class navigation system” and it’s next generation design “will give unprecedented accuracy and coverage for a range of services, including mobile phone access,” and “would extend its services to include underwater communications and deep space.” Meanwhile, Europe announced a new LEO PNT satellite constellation to augment their Galileo constellation. China is also surging in quantum computing patents, increasing from “137 as of September 2020 to 804 by October 2022.” China now accounts for 15 percent of global quantum computing patents, behind the United States (40 percent), and ahead of Japan (11 percent). A “State of the Quantum 2022” report claims that “shows that 91% of business leaders are investing or planning to invest in quantum computing, a field in which private investment has grown 500% from a total of $0.4 billion in 2017 to $2.2 billion in 2021.” This is corroborated by a separate survey where 81% of organizations claimed to have plans or candidates for quantum computing by next year. According to NASA, we are now in the “Decade of Light” where optical communications enables new satellite systems, “but the 2030s will be the Decade of Quantum. There are a lot of technologies that are being developed now to enable us to move seamlessly to the next decade.” Another good QED-C Quantum Marketplace webinar focused on Quantum Networks as a follow up to a previous webinar, including quantum networking leaders like AWS, GE, Verizon, Accenture, Deloitte, and EPB. Conferences Time and Money Conference, January 17, New York, New York Photonics West and Quantum West, January 28 - February 2, San Francisco, CA Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, March 13 - 16, Vancouver, Canada Satellite 2023, March 13 - 16, Washington DC Space Symposium, April 17 - 20, Colorado Springs, CO The More You Know... Goodbye leap second! The world’s timekeepers voted recently to stop using leap seconds, an artifice to help keep official time in line with the rotation of the Earth. If the Earth maintained a rotation rate of 86,400 seconds per day this wouldn’t be necessary. But the Earth has a habit of slowing down, or, lately, speeding up. Network operators have longed argued that we should scrap the leap second. Even a discontinuity as small as one second can wreak havoc with their networks: “The leap second change triggered a massive Reddit outage in 2012, as well as related problems at Mozilla, LinkedIn, Yelp and airline booking service Amadeus. In 2017, a leap second glitch at network infrastructure company Cloudflare knocked a fraction of customers' servers offline.” Fortunately, the main source of network timing comes from GPS, which doesn't use leap seconds. Because of this GPS time has diverged by 18 seconds from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). But at least that gap won't change going forward.

  • Weekly Takeaways-August 10, 2022

    Time to Save the World Timing synchronization provides the grease for efficient networks. This efficiency helps reduce power consumption, and, by extension, harmful emissions. While it is difficult to show the direct link between timing accuracy and power consumption, some case studies show the potential. For example, timing in data centers reduces the effort to work with distributed databases. A joint Facebook and NVIDIA project showed that “making the timekeeping 80x more precise made a distributed database run 3x faster - an incredible performance boost on the same server hardware, just from keeping more accurate and more reliable time.” This inspired them to set up the Time Appliance Project, stating that “Time is a key element to get the highest efficiency in a distributed system.” The benefits of synchronization also extend to power grids. A Norwegian power utility estimates that synchronized digital substations in power grids could help recover 9% of their energy, and the Swedish Transport Administration estimates that phase synchronization could result in a 1 TWh/year potential energy savings. Better timing = more efficiency = lower power consumption = reduced emissions = Save the World. Last Week's Theme: Timing is Everything Industry News China recently launched six new LEO satellites to provide quantum key distribution (QKD) from space as part of a larger global QKD network and a follow up to their groundbreaking quantum satellite launched in 2016. Buried within the $280B CHIPS and Science Act is $153M per year for quantum research, including $100M/year for a "Quantum Network Infrastructure," In addition, the US “Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act” is moving through Congress with the intent to force the “migration of Federal Government information technology systems to quantum-resistant cryptography.” The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, also known as “America’s Seed Fund,” is in danger of expiring because it was not included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Research shows that SBIR and STTR “generated a 22 to 1 return on investment, including $347 billion in total economic impact and created more than 1.5 million jobs between 1995 and 2012,” an incredible return on the $4B/year investment. Meanwhile, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that they awarded a record $154.2B to small businesses, an $8B increase from last years. This represents nearly 27.2% of total federal contracting funds and “has supported over one million jobs in the American economy.” Following on news that VC fundraising in 2022 is on pace to surpass last year’s record, there are signs that investment is moving out of the Silicon Valley amid claims that remote work is “profoundly weakening the Silicon Valley network effect.” "What if your internet connection used single photons to transmit bits of information? You would be enjoying the unprecedented features of a quantum network, including access to quantum computing nodes and high security." Check out the QED-C The Landscape of Quantum Networking webinar to learn more. Conferences Optics + Photonics, August 21 - 25, San Diego, CA ION GNSS+ 2022, September 19 - 23, Denver, CO IEEE Quantum Week 2022, September 18 - 23, Broomfield, CO APSCC 2022, October 18 - 20, Seoul, Korea Tough Tech Summit, October 27 - 28, Boston, MA International Timing and Sync Forum, November 7 - 10, Dusseldorf, Germany The More You Know... Did it feel like your day went by especially fast on Wednesday, June 29? That's because the Earth had the shortest day on record, completing one rotation in 1.59 milliseconds less than 24 hours. In general, over long periods of time the Earth's rotation slows down by a tiny bit. To keep the 24-hour day synced with the rotation, scientists will occasionally add leap seconds to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the international time standard. However, in recent years the Earth's rotation has been mysteriously speeding up. So scientists may need to subtract a leap second rather than add one! But it doesn't matter to network operators like Google, Microsoft, Meta and Amazon. They want to scrap the leap second altogether because any discontinuous jump of that magnitude can wreak havoc with their networks. For the same reason, GPS time -- the current source of network timing -- doesn't use leap seconds That's why GPS time now differs from UTC time by 18 seconds.

  • Weekly Takeaways-September 15, 2022

    Theme of the Week Freedom to Grow Not long ago, space was inextricably tied to governments. In this era, old space companies stayed in their narrow government-sponsored lanes. But new space has been freed from these shackles and are blazing their own trails, including: Delivering crucial communications and imagery for Ukraine. Taking over the space station and lunar missions. Working with cell phone companies on universal coverage, including the recent SpaceX and T-Mobile, Apple and Globalstar, and other cell/satellite collaborations. While these tie-ups may seem obvious, they never would have happened in the old space era. GPS remains the lone holdout; a Cold War relic that is now too pervasive to change. Its timing signal remains indispensable for networks, but stops at the rooftop. A true Global Timing Service will need space+terrestrial for universal time distribution. A new commercial solution is needed. Last Week's Theme: GTS vs GPS Achievements Welcome to Nino De Falcis! Nino is joining Xairos as Timing Advisor on our Advisory Board, bringing over three decades of experience in the timing and synchronization industry to advise Xairos’ go-to-market strategy. Check out Nino’s presentation on smart grid timing here. Seed round is closing September 30! We will hold our first investor Q&A session this Wednesday, September 21, at 4 pm ET. You can register here or add to your Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar or Yahoo Calendar. There is still an opportunity to invest so please email us to learn more. Proof-of-Concept (POC) complete but additional tests and improvements continue. Check out this simple explainer video to learn more about our core technology. Working on overseas projects and partnerships with a busy travel stretch through the end of the year. As part of our work with Louisiana State University, check out Stav Halder's presentation: "Global Precision Time Distribution via Satellite-Based Entangled Photon Sources" Industry News According to the US Department of Transportation, maritime GPS interference seems to be on the rise. Not a big surprise most of the reported issues are around Europe and Middle East, but GPS outages in the US are still a concern. Quantum computers will one day crack existing public key infrastructure, which spurred the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to evaluate Post Quantum Cryptography (PQC) algorithms. But security issues were found, forcing NIST to issue “a call for additional PQC algorithms to use for digital signatures." So the race is on between the thorough NIST selection process and quantum computers. Meanwhile, the US National Security Agency (NSA) isn’t waiting for the final selections. The NSA published a Commercial National Security Algorithm Suite 2.0 (CNSA 2.0) Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) which specifies “which encryption algorithms should be used for owners, operators and vendors to use when working with classified information critical to military and intelligence activities” that included the NIST Round 3 PQC selections. Are quantum computers that far along? There are some that claim that Google's announcement of quantum supremacy in 2019 is not that big of a deal as "a team of Chinese scientists have developed an algorithm to perform the computation reasonably efficiently on 512 conventional GPUs.” A new space coalition was announced at the second US National Space Council “that will focus on increasing the space industry’s capacity to meet the rising demand for the skilled technical workforce.” Conferences ION GNSS+ 2022, September 19 - 23, Denver, CO IEEE Quantum Week 2022, September 18 - 23, Broomfield, CO Quantum Industry Day, October 4, Zurich, Switzerland ICSO 2022, October 6 - 7, Dubrovnik, Croatia APSCC 2022, October 18 - 20, Seoul, Korea Tough Tech Summit, October 27 - 28, Boston, MA International Timing and Sync Forum, November 7 - 10, Dusseldorf, Germany Photonics West and Quantum West, January 28 - February 2, San Francisco, CA The More You Know... Our Timing Advisor Nino De Falcis asks: "Can smart grids be protected from PNT cyberattacks?” While it may seem counterintuitive, modern power grids require timing for: "charging points require precise timestamping of the massive amount of data they generate to balance power demand and supply.” “rerouting power flows away from transmission outages, to locating power line faults, and for synchronizing distributed control and protection systems. Without highly accurate timing and synchronization, power grids are vulnerable to partial outages and even complete blackouts.” Because of this, the standards for timing accuracy is getting more stringent: “The syncrophaser now demands accuracy better than 1 microsecond. For fault location, we’re now at 100 nanoseconds… This is a big change from just five years ago when accuracy in all these categories was firmly in the millisecond range, and it’s a high bar that needs to be maintained by next-generation redundant systems, should GPS or ground-based timing become compromised.” But the bigger challenge is meeting new Department of Homeland Security resiliency requirements. At the highest level “This means they must function for long periods in the absence of a GPS timing source, or when ground-based timing sources have been otherwise compromised.”

  • Weekly Takeaways-September 9,2022

    Theme of the Week GTS vs GPS Despite the name, Global Positioning System (GPS) provides more than position; it also provides time. The GPS architecture requires that multiple satellites are in view to resolve both position and time together. The weak signals work well in an open field - not so well in urban canyons or behind walls. Fortunately, there isn't a critical need for position knowledge if you are inside a building; you should already know where you are. But accurate timing is absolutely critical inside data centers and deep in network server rooms. To address this, a complex time distribution network is necessary, enabled by a multi-billion-dollar ecosystem of timing and synchronization hardware providers. But on the outer shell of these spaghetti networks is still a Grandmaster Clock tied to GPS. When GPS falters, the whole timing network degrades. And all the network engineers can do is hold their collective breath until it comes back. A true Global Timing System (GTS) is much more than just satellites. Industry News To address concerns about GPS jamming, the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) launched the Harmonious Rook project to “address the need for scalable, persistent awareness of positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) disruptions across the globe,” and will join an Army training exercise. Part of the problem is that GPS interference events are not rigorously tracked. The European GNSS Agency (GSA) launched the STRIKE3 program to try to assess this. Over three years they found 59,000 deliberate interference signals out of 450,000+ interference signals, prompting them to develop a GNSS interference detection network. The GAO “DOD Is Developing Navigation Systems But Is Not Measuring Overall Progress” report has led to the belief that “the real problem with DOD PNT is not a lack of leadership, but rather too much. “If everyone is in charge, no one is,” commented one retired senior military officer familiar with the issue." NASA announced a Quantum Sensing (QS) Workshop to assess their “needs and competencies related to QS and compare agency capabilities with those available externally including industry, academia, and other government agencies.” The success of commercial space in supporting Ukraine has not escaped the notice of US government agencies, including the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA): “The war in Ukraine has been a significant driver of interest in commercial space capabilities, as the intelligence community utilizes commercial, space-based data collection to understand the ongoing conflict,” according to a NGA official. The recent US Department of Defense (DoD) “State of the Space Industrial Base” report “calls on the government to accelerate the adoption of commercial technologies and services to maintain dominance in space,” to “foster and leverage commercial innovation in order to not be overtaken by China as the dominant space power.” The More You Know... China now has three quantum satellites in orbit, with plans for four more: 17 August 2016 - launch of Micius QKD demonstration satellite 15 September 2016 - launch of Quantum terminal on Space Lab Tiangong-2 29 July 2022 - launch of quantum satellite Jinan 1 Elsewhere around the world other quantum satellite projects are on the drawing board: German consortium is developing quantum sensor technology “to achieve high-precision attitude control of miniaturized satellites.” UK's Arqit is building two QKD Satellites launching 2023 with European Space Agency support. Singapore's SpeQtral and UK's RAL Space are working on the Speqtre QKD mission to launch in 2024. European consortium led by SES is working on QUARTZ. Canadian Space Agency is working on the QEYSSAT mission being built by Honeywell. German Space Agency DLR is working on QUBE. UK Space Agency is working on ROKS and QUARC. Notice what country isn't on that list? Sure, there are plans to launch quantum hardware and NASA is considering industry options. But, as the Ukraine conflict has shown us, innovation comes from commercial US space. Then why does the US government wants to de-fund these companies? The immensely successful Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is still at risk of coming to an end after forty successful years.

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