Why GPS is critical to your smartphone — and desperately needs an overhaul

Most modern technology, including smartphones, runs on GPS. But the system might be more vulnerable to failures than you think. The U.S. lacks backup geolocation technology, meaning outages or interference could be catastrophic. Russia has threatened to destroy GPS satellites, and recently faulty GPS signals temporarily closed a Dallas airport.

Thankfully, companies are stepping in to help guard GPS. NextNav recently signed a deal to provide new technology called TerraPoiNT that serves as a backup for GPS, using existing LTE and 5G networks. “TerraPoiNT’s signal is over 100,000 times stronger than GPS, and its signal encryption makes it more resistant to jamming and spoofing,” Ganesh Pattabiraman, NextNav’s CEO, told Digital Trends in an interview. It’s an intriguing stat — and a glimpse of how we can (and should) safeguard GPS.

Why GPS is so important, and so fragile

why gps is critical to your smartphone — and desperately needs an overhaul

GPS map data from an Apple Watch Ultra and the Apple Watch Series 8 shown on an iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone SE 2022. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

GPS provides positioning, navigation, timing services as well as location services for mobile phones. Its widespread availability has made it a global utility integral to industries and infrastructure, ranging from the electrical grid to 911 emergency services to financial transactions. But, Pattabiraman said, the system is “incredibly vulnerable” to interference — including jamming and spoofing.

Sam Brown, a professional radio engineer who runs a radio frequency blog at OneSDR, said in an interview that GPS communication receivers are often disrupted using easy-to-obtain and cheap jammers.

“A jammer will emit a signal that interferes with signal reception, and as a result, the GPS receiver will not be able to provide location information,” he added.

In one recent example, problems with GPS signals led to flights being grounded at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The problem was traced to a mysterious source of interference and closed the airport for two days.

why gps is critical to your smartphone — and desperately needs an overhaul

Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Potential foreign interference is another issue. Russia has bragged that it can take out the satellites that provide our GPS.

“An incident like a major solar flare or damage to commercial satellites could potentially knock out numerous essential services that we rely on every single day,” Pattabiraman said. “That’s why the U.S. federal government has recognized the importance of implementing PNT alternative technologies to ensure GPS resilience, including through an executive order to “engage the public and private sectors to identify and promote the responsible use of PNT services.”

Alex Damato, acting executive director of the GPS Innovation Alliance, an industry group, said in an interview that his organization maintains a technology-neutral stance when it comes to backup GPS solutions.

However, he said, GPSIA agrees that “the best strategy for achieving resilient PNT service is to pursue multiple technologies to promote diversity in the PNT functions.” It is also essential that backup solutions are able to offer equivalent capabilities and a level of performance on par with GPS technologies and are driven by the PNT requirements of each industry sector rather than government mandates.

A problem decades in the making

why gps is critical to your smartphone — and desperately needs an overhaul

Lockheed Martin

Part of the problems with GPS stems from its design as a relic of the Cold War. GPS was designed for military use in conflict areas where civilian networks were not available — shooting rockets a thousand miles through the upper atmosphere or helping carriers full of airplanes cross the ocean, Tim Sylvester, founder and CEO of Integrated Roadways, said in an interview. It was never intended to help navigate pedestrians and vehicles in peaceful urban areas.

“This mismatch in design versus use means that GPS has several significant flaws, such as low accuracy and high latency,” Sylvester said. These challenges are a product of the GPS signals coming from satellites thousands of miles away, and the drawbacks are a consequence of physics that cannot be fixed.”

GPS has its drawbacks when it comes to a new generation of self-driving cars. The low accuracy of GPS means that you can’t effectively use it to know what lane someone is in, which is a big problem when driving, and high latency means that your position information gets worse when you’re moving quickly, which is also a big problem when driving, Sylvester said. Because GPS is coming from thousands of miles away, in urban areas with lots of tall buildings, the accuracy is even worse because the tall buildings block satellites that aren’t in the exact right position to transmit past the buildings.

why gps is critical to your smartphone — and desperately needs an overhaul


“These limitations are completely at odds with using GPS for connected and autonomous vehicles, which requires high accuracy, low latency, and reliable operation in dense urban areas, seeing as how dense urban areas are where all the traffic is,” Sylvester said. “Like newspapers were replaced with online news, GPS was a great stepping stone, but it’s time to move past it. In fact, most apps already disregard GPS and quietly substitute it for alternatives like Bluetooth, but this is usually hidden from the user because what the user cares about is a good service, not how they get it.”

The coming wave of autonomous vehicles may require a better location system. Sylvester said the most promising alternative to GPS for connected and autonomous vehicles is called APNT. PNT stands for “position, navigation, telemetry.” Depending on who you ask, the “A” may stand for assisted, augmented, assured, alternative, or other near-synonyms terms.

APNT is built into the local infrastructure, including cell antennas, Bluetooth beacons, Wi-Fi, or other “alternative” means to position, navigate, and receive vehicle telemetry.

“These methods have been cobbled together over the last 15 years using a combination of smartphone components and readily available communications methods, and while they’re great for tourists roaming Market Street or Times Square trying to track down a sandwich that’s less than $30, their ad hoc nature means they can’t be relied on for autonomy,” Sylvester said.

Integrated Roadways has been developing Smart Pavement, which builds the APNT capabilities directly into the road, using high-accuracy in-road sensors, and supported by an ultra-low-latency edge network, “so that any road upgraded with Smart Pavement has all the APNT capabilities needed for connected and autonomous vehicles built into the roadway and designed from the ground up as a reliable, safe, secure, industrial-quality network providing the features required by next-generation mobility demands, ” Sylvester said

Where do we go after GPS?

why gps is critical to your smartphone — and desperately needs an overhaul


NextNav’s system isn’t the only option as a GPS backup. Max Perez, the vice president of research and security Solutions at ColdQuanta, said in an interview that Quantum Positioning Systems (QPS) have the potential to serve as an alternative to GPS. Quantum properties power the positioning system, and unlike GPS, QPS does not require ongoing calibration with outside signals to run.

“A QPS only needs to know its starting point to function and is able to calculate how fast it has traveled, for how long, and in what direction to determine its current position,” Perez said. “Quantum Positioning Systems (QPS) would augment GPS throughout the world as it offers significantly improved navigation security. Use cases for QPS include navigation for aircraft, submarines, autonomous cars, and more. Benefits of QPS over GPS include accuracy, no reliance on satellite, indoor usage, and less vulnerability to hacking.”

Damato said the GPS industry is innovating rapidly, developing solutions that make GPS more precise and resilient. These solutions include GPS receivers, the satellites that deliver these GPS signals, and the ground control segment that tracks and monitors GPS performance.

“A major modernization of the GPS constellation is well underway, which, when completed, will deliver dozens of new satellites providing significantly greater accuracy and increased anti-jamming capabilities,” he added.

News Related


Amazon Kindle Scribe review: The Kindle just got weird, and I love it

Amazon Kindle Scribe MSRP $339.99 Score Details DT Editors' Choice “The Amazon Kindle Scribe isn't for everyone. But if you want a single gadget for reading and writing on a ... Read more »

LogicGate Enhances Risk Cloud® with Cyber Risk & Controls Compliance Solution

LogicGate, creator of the transformative risk and compliance management platform Risk Cloud®, has launched its Cyber Risk & Controls Compliance Solution, empowering IT and risk leaders to visualize, understand and ... Read more »

Become an ethical hacker with this ten-course certification bundle

As new challenges emerge in the cybersecurity space, IT professionals are increasingly expected to have ethical hacking as part of their core skill sets. The 2023 Complete Cyber Security Ethical ... Read more »

How Apple can fix iOS 16’s messy lock screen customization in iOS 17

When you compare iOS and Android, it’s always been clear that Android is the way to go if you want full customization of your mobile software. However, ever since iOS ... Read more »

GoPro Hero 11 Mini review: little action camera, big potential

GoPro Hero 11 Mini MSRP $450.00 Score Details DT Editors' Choice “The GoPro Hero 11 Mini is no less powerful than its big brother.” Pros Small size Effective control system ... Read more »

Apple's iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are in very short supply right now

Getting an iPhone 14 Pro or a 14 Pro Max might be tough right now, especially if you want it before year’s end. According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, total ... Read more »

OnePlus’s new Android update policy matches Samsung, shames Google

OnePlus will deliver four major OxygenOS updates and five years of security updates to some new devices it launches in 2023. Confirmed at a OnePlus community event in London, the ... Read more »

How to Fix “No SIM Card Detected” Error on iPhone or Android?

Subscriber identity module or SIM contains unique identification information called IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) that identifies users on any network. When you insert a SIM card, your mobile reads ... Read more »

Aussies warned of scams ahead of Christmas

One of the big banks is warning Australians to be extra careful of scams in the lead up to the silly season, after this year’s Black Friday sales went crazy. ... Read more »

Get these JBL earbuds and 4 months of Music Unlimited for $25

Best Buy is giving shoppers one more chance at its Cyber Monday headphone deals with this $25 discount for the JBL Vibe 200 wireless earbuds, which halves their price to ... Read more »

Spotify Wrapped 2022: when it’s coming and how to view it

For loads of music lovers, the end of November is a special time of year when Spotify drops its annual Spotify Wrapped list, a data-derived deep dive into — for ... Read more »

Sorry, Elon — your Tesla phone is never going to happen

Let me catch you up: After purchasing Twitter and appointing himself CEO, Elon Musk has made some — what can generously be called — controversial changes to the site and ... Read more »

Why this new Apple Watch Ultra app made me want to go diving

The Apple Watch Ultra is an adventure smartwatch, with special features aimed at hikers, trekkers, outdoors enthusiasts, and divers. Apple collaborated with Huish Outdoors to create the newly released Oceanic+ ... Read more »

First Google Pixel 7a renders show a modern, sleek design upgrade

The first glimpse of the upcoming Pixel 7a is here, and it appears that the era of boring design is over for Google’s affordable phones. Leaker @OnLeaks, in collaboration with ... Read more »

Bomb-sniffing dogs are in short supply across the U.S.

University of Pennsylvania Police Officer and K9 Uman, a black Labrador Retriever trained in explosives detection, conducting a package search during a routine training exercise. Wise K9 Photography hide caption ... Read more »

AWS Activates 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Processors for New EC2 R7iz Instances

Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the private preview of Amazon EC2 R7iz instances powered by 4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, code-named Sapphire Rapids. R7iz instances deliver an all-core turbo frequency up to 3.9 gigahertz and ... Read more »

Hive Social is my favorite Twitter alternative, but that’s not saying much

Ever since Elon Musk bought Twitter, it seems that the once-favorite social media site has just been going down in flames. It’s a sad sight to see — fake news ... Read more »

Apple's App Store Awards honor standout apps and games of 2022

What just happened? Apple has announced the winners of its annual App Store Awards, highlighting more than a dozen apps and games that it says inspired users to expand their ... Read more »

Apple Music Replay 2022: where to find and how to see your listening stats

The end of the year is an exciting time for a few different reasons. There are family gatherings for the holidays, presents to gift and receive, and a chance to ... Read more »

5 things that would make the Google Pixel Fold next year’s best foldable

Google has been synonymous with the Android smartphone market, but even more so now thanks to its own Pixel lineup of phones. The latest releases, the Google Pixel 7 and ... Read more »

Surprisingly, the iPhone 14 Pro can’t win this epic camera shootout

Huawei and Leica created some of the very best camera phones I’ve ever used, with the P20 Pro, in particular, igniting my interest in mobile photography. The Apple iPhone has always ... Read more »

Computer crash causes chaos at Brooklyn hospitals network with ties to Hochul

The computer network has crashed and been offline for more than a week at a Brooklyn hospital group chaired by a billionaire mega donor to Gov. Kathy Hochul — causing ... Read more »

APRA suggests pay could be docked for Medibank executives

Medibank executives should have their pay docked over their recent cyber breach, the financial services watchdog has warned. In a statement the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority said they had “intensified” ... Read more »

My favorite iPhone MagSafe in-car holders are Cyber Monday bargains

I have always had a problem finding the right in-car holder for my iPhone 14 Pro, not just because the choice of products is so huge but also because I ... Read more »

MIT Policy Hackathon produces new solutions for technology policy challenges

Hackathon explores policy solutions to challenges in cybersecurity, environmental justice, and city planning focused on post-pandemic efforts to build a better society. Read more »

Audible Cyber Monday deal drops the price of Premium by 60%

We’re covering a lot of Cyber Monday deals today, and while most of them will be for products there are also a few great services out there that you can ... Read more »

Data Leaks From Both Twitter And Meta … Again

Social Media Disease There were two leaks reported on recently, sadly the actual leaks happened quite a while back.  For Twitter users it seems that last July someone was selling ... Read more »

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds earbuds line is discounted for Cyber Monday

Shoppers who want to check out alternatives to Cyber Monday AirPods deals should take a look at the various models of Samsung’s Galaxy Buds. They’re currently on sale in Samsung’s ... Read more »

Don’t buy the wrong iPad during Cyber Monday — get this one instead

Every year, just like iPhone upgrades, Apple comes out with a new version of its various iPad models, including the entry-level iPad with a 10.9-inch screen. This year, we have ... Read more »

Hackers’ Cyber Monday deals will be unbelievably good

Cyber Monday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year, following Black Friday, and since the reason for the sale day is to push online shopping, you should ... Read more »

Save $200 on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ with S Pen for Cyber Monday

If you’re not in the Apple ecosystem, then the Samsung Galaxy Tabs are probably the best tablets you can pick up if you want something that can compete with the ... Read more »

Instafest app: How to make your own Spotify festival lineup

If you’re on any form of social media, you’ve likely seen people posting their own custom music festival lineups based on their most-played artists on Spotify. If you head to ... Read more »

This 10-inch Lenovo tablet is $129 for Cyber Monday (selling fast)

Cyber Monday tablet deals aren’t just about Cyber Monday iPad deals. If you’re willing to give Android-powered tablets a try and you’re on a tight budget, then you should consider ... Read more »

This Amazfit fitness tracker is $35 for Cyber Monday, and it’s selling fast

If you’re searching for Cyber Monday smartwatch deals, but the prices are still out of reach, check out Walmart’s Cyber Monday sale on the Amazfit Bip 3 Urban Edition smartwatch. ... Read more »

Why a Kindle Paperwhite is the best $100 you can spend on Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are prime times throughout the year to get mobile tech at lower-than-usual prices. That means there are ample Cyber Monday phone deals, tablet deals, and ... Read more »

The Cyber Monday 2022 Security, IT, VPN, & Antivirus Deals

Cyber Monday is here, and great deals are live in computer security, software, online courses, system admin services, antivirus, and VPN software. These promotions have deep discounts from various companies ... Read more »

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, Z Flip 4 get big Cyber Monday discounts

If you’ve been eyeing Samsung’s latest foldables for some time now, but have also had one eye on your bank balance, then prepare yourself — we’ve got not one, but ... Read more »

Cyber Monday is your last chance to get an iPhone for $99

Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends It’s a deal that keeps getting better and better as time passes. You can get an iPhone SE (2020 edition) that is locked to Straight Talk, one of ... Read more »

Best Cyber Monday iPad Deals: iPad Air, iPad Pro, iPad Mini

If you missed out on Black Friday deals, today is officially your last chance to snap up the best Cyber Monday deals, before they’re gone for good. We’re seeing some ... Read more »

How 2023 could bring Google’s best and most ambitious Pixel lineup yet

Google’s Pixels have always been an interesting line to follow, but the company has treated them as an experiment up until 2021. That’s when Google launched the revolutionary Pixel 6 ... Read more »
Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network