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Homeland Security reports on PNT backup, Satelles responds

DHS report cover

DHS report cover

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a report on alternative sources of PNT on May 6. It was submitted to U.S. congressional committee leaders on April 8.

The Report on Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Backup and Complementary Capabilities to the Global Positioning System (GPS) highlights the urgent need for GPS backup for critical applications, and it identifies and characterizes a variety of solutions available to meet this need today.

Section 1618 of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of Dec. 23, 2016, required the DHS to address the need for a GPS backup by identifying and assessing viable alternate technologies and systems.

The report is a summary and analysis of that assessment by the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC) of PNT systems currently used by critical infrastructure. It also provides recommendations for the federal government’s next steps to increase the resilience of critical infrastructure to disruption of GPS services.

In the report, DHS offers the following recommendations to address the nation’s PNT requirements and backup or complementary capability gaps:

  1. Temporary GPS disruptions: End users should be responsible for mitigating temporary GPS disruptions. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration maintains sufficient PNT capabilities to assure the continued safe operation of the national airspace, albeit at a reduced capacity, during GPS disruptions. The federal government can facilitate this mitigation for various critical infrastructure sectors, but should not be solely responsible for it.
  2. PNT Diversity and Segmentation: The federal government should encourage adoption of multiple PNT sources, thus expanding the availability of PNT services based on market drivers. Encouraging critical infrastructure owners and operators to adopt multiple PNT systems will diffuse the risk currently concentrated in wide-area PNT services such as GPS. Federal actions should focus on facilitating the availability and adoption of PNT sources in the open market.
  3. System Design: PNT provisioning systems, assets, and services must be designed with inherent security and resilience features. Critical infrastructure systems that use PNT services must be designed to operate through interference and to identify and respond to anomalous PNT inputs. These attributes are applicable to the PNT receivers and the systems that use them.
  4. Pursue Innovation that Emphasizes Transition and Adoption: Incorporating PNT signal diversity into the PNT ecosystem should be pursued with an emphasis on research and development that prioritizes successful transition and adoption into existing GPS receivers, taking into account factors such as business case considerations, financial costs, technical integration, and logistical deployment.

Table 1 shows timing requirements for critical infrastructure are, according to the report.

Table 1. (Image: DHS report)

Table 1. (Image: DHS report)

Table 2 from the report shows proposed timing solutions submitted by industry to DHS during a Request for Information (RFI) in December 2018. Systems that can meet or exceed timing requirements for critical infrastructure are indicated in green.

Table 2 (Image: DHS report)

Table 2 (Image: DHS report)

Satelles responds

The Satelles company, which offers STL, issued a statement on the report. “This important report highlights the urgent need for GPS backup for critical applications, and it identifies and characterizes a variety of solutions that are available to meet this need today,” said Michael O’Connor, CEO of Satelles. “The report also describes the essential role of the federal government in urging industry to implement multiple technologies, without making the mistake of providing or selecting a single PNT solution.”

Continued O’Connor, “DHS goes on to define a baseline requirement for timing services accuracy for critical infrastructure. Not only does Satelles meet or exceed the precision timing specifications stated by DHS, but also our solution provides national coverage (including Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. territories) and is commercially available now.”

Read O’Connor’s full statement.

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