Feeds

New GPS sats to lack Selective Availability

Availability will still be selective though

Mobile application security vulnerability report

The US military announced yesterday that it will no longer procure Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites with the capability for worldwide civil sat nav degradation.

In a release dated yesterday, the Pentagon confirmed that "this capability, known as Selective Availability (SA), will no longer be present in the next generation of GPS satellites".

Until 2000, the accuracy of the GPS civil signal was reduced using SA, so that a normal sat nav receiver would be accurate to only 100 metres or so. There was and remains a separate military signal, encrypted so only those with appropriate keys - such as the US forces and their allies - can use it.

Despite SA, many civil users were able to achieve excellent accuracy using a technique known as Differential GPS, in which a ground station at a known location would calculate the SA error and transmit corrections to a mobile civil receiver in real time.

SA was switched off in 2000 on the orders of President Clinton, but it remained an option. In the years since, the US government has sought to assure civil GPS users that SA would never be used again, but its presence has remained a concern.

Now it has been confirmed that the next generation of satellites will not have SA built in. According to the Pentagon: "While this action will not materially improve the performance of the system, it does reflect the United States' strong commitment to users by reinforcing that this global utility can be counted on to support peaceful civil applications around the globe."

This announcement may reassure users somewhat, but the GPS civil signal still isn't a given. America will retain the option to degrade or deny it altogether over limited areas, and this was always much more likely to happen than the relatively blunt instrument of degrading performance worldwide.

The European Commission is just about to make its case for pushing ahead with the proposed new Galileo Euro sat nav constellation. One might speculate that the timing of this American announcement isn't a coincidence. ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.