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Congress Authorizes Terrestrial Back-up for GPS

Posted: Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:15 am
by jimh
A release from the Whitehouse says:

On Tuesday, December 4, 2018, the President signed into law:

S. 140, the “Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018,” which authorizes appropriations for the United States Coast Guard and the Federal Maritime Commission through Fiscal Year 2019; reauthorizes the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s hydrographic services program through Fiscal Year 2023; and modifies the regulation of vessel incidental discharge and ballast water.

This announcement fails to mention another provision in the bill related to a back-up terrestrial system for precise timing. According to an article from GPSWORLD, the act also "..tasks the Secretary of Transportation with establishing a terrestrial backup timing system for GPS within two years."

GPSWorld wrote:The law requires that, to the maximum extent possible, the backup system be:
  • terrestrial
  • wireless
  • synchronized to UTC
  • difficult to disrupt
  • able to penetrate underground and inside buildings
  • capable of deployment to remote locations
  • expandable to provide position, navigation and timing (PNT), and
  • able to work in concert with similar systems such as eLoran.
It also has provisions for the government to be able to establish the system through a commercial entity should it elect to do so. In such a case, it establishes several provisions that such a contract must meet.


The means of accomplishing the providing of such a terrestrial back-up timing system are not detailed, but the most reasonable assumption might be to use the 100-kHz frequency left over from LORAN-C. A few years ago the Obama administration was blowing up LORAN towers in working condition in what seemed like a political jihad against eLORAN proponents. Maybe now the government will be rebuilding them.

Since the system is also supposed to be expandable to provide position and navigation, perhaps it will promote development of modern enhanced-LORAN (eLORAN) devices to a consumer level.

Not quite as encouraging, GPSWorld also notes that "this new law is not a funding bill." Only $10-million is authorized to produce a technology demonstration.

Re: Congress Authorizes Terrestrial Back-up for GPS

Posted: Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:39 pm
by jimh
The full text of the lengthy legistlation that affects the Terrestrial Back-up Timing System can be read at ... 66865f7ba1