The Customer Benefits from Multi-Constellation, Multi-Frequency-Capable
Global Navigation Satellite System Receivers
Technologies incorporating signals from Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) improve our lives daily. The United States’ GNSS constellation, called the Global Positioning System (GPS), constitutes an irreplaceable part of our national infrastructure and public safety systems while delivering other benefits to users worldwide. In fact, GPS touches every aspect of society’s infrastructure, from aviation and rail to wireless broadband and the electric grid. Emergency responders and people using 9-1-1 to help their loved ones and others facing emergencies rely on GPS. The system also supports critical applications including precision agriculture, surveying, mapping, and construction. Every day, amateur and professional athletes track their performance and activity through these signals. Many companies, including GPS Innovation Alliance Member companies, design and produce GNSS chipsets, receivers, and other cutting-edge technologies to provide the most accurate information for a wide array of global customers. By 2031, the EU Agency for the Space Programme estimates that over 10 billion GNSS devices will be in use across the world.
Today's GNSS systems, including the United States’ GPS, the EU’s Galileo system, Japan’s QZSS, China’s Beidou system, India’s NavIC, and Russia’s GLONASS system, are launched and operated by national (or in the case of the EU, transnational) governmental entities. Some satellite systems operate worldwide, and others are regionally focused. Because these signals are transmitted free of charge, use of the signals in no way financially benefits the foreign governments operating these constellations.
Each GNSS system differs in its technical attributes. Most satellite constellations transmit signals in one direction to receivers. Three types of signals are transmitted: military, civil, and commercial. Certain satellite signals are reserved exclusively for use in military activities of the relevant government and its allies. The satellites also transmit publicly available navigation and timing signals free of charge that are incorporated into suitably designed receivers for civil authorities and users and commercial customers and users. The receivers "hear" the transmitted signal(s) and turn them into useful information, or information from the signal is combined with other sensor data to deliver outstanding services for customers and users worldwide.
Customers of GNSS chipset and receiver designers and manufacturers live, work, and travel around the world. As a result, nearly every GNSS chip and receiver globally is capable of "hearing" signals from multiple GNSS satellite constellations. The more navigation signals that are "heard" by the receiver, the more accurate the position provided to global customers. Accuracy is a critical metric used to determine receiver performance.
Receiving foreign GNSS signals does not create any known security issues for GNSS users. The GPS industry takes the security and operations of its devices very seriously. It closely and continually tracks these matters and addresses any concerns as they arise. Chipset and receiver manufacturers go to great lengths to ensure they provide a secure product to their customers and users. In fact, using receivers designed to receive multi-constellation signals provides a security benefit for global customers. If one signal behaves differently than signals coming from other constellations, whether due to constellation malfunction or for nefarious reasons, today’s sophisticated receiver technology can “throw out” the spurious information in calculating position. Any foreign actor purposefully transmitting spurious signals would also compromise its own receivers using the signals.
Another important discriminator among satellite systems: the number of different frequencies on which a system is able to transmit. The more frequencies, the greater benefits that chipset and receiver manufacturers can provide to users, ranging from improved resistance to spoofing and jamming to receiving stronger signals in urban or forested and mountainous environments.
In addition to the customer benefits, U.S. industry also benefits from offering multi-constellation, multi-frequency-capable GNSS receivers. Global competition among GNSS chipset and receiver designers and manufacturers is fierce. As in any market, to compete globally, companies must be prepared to offer their customers and users superior products. Receivers with chipsets designed to receive signals from multiple GNSS satellite constellations, including those that transmit signals at multiple different frequencies, respond to today's global customer demands and needs. As the RAND Corporation noted in its 2021 report produced for the Department of Homeland Security, "One important alternative provides a nearly seamless backup for GPS - the other GNSS constellations that use similar signals in the same radio band." And those companies whose technologies can deliver that level of customer service will prevail in today's competitive GNSS chipset and receiver markets.