New Alliance Launches to Promote PNT as a GPS/GNSS Backup for Critical Infrastructure
Thursday, December 03, 2020 | Comments

Iridium Communications, infiniDome, Jackson Labs Technologies, NAVSYS Corporation, NextNav, OPNT, Orolia, Qulsar, Satelles and Seven Solutions joined forces to create the Open PNT Industry Alliance.

This coalition of positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) companies will fortify economic and national security by supporting government efforts to accelerate the implementation of backup PNT capabilities for critical infrastructure. Other companies sharing these views are invited to join the alliance.

A serious problem facing nations around the world is that the GPS and other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) are susceptible to inadvertent disruptions and deliberate attacks. Such incidents have the potential to impair or incapacitate communications networks, transportation systems, energy production and distribution platforms, financial services operations, and other types of critical infrastructure. With the scope, complexity and severity of disruptions and attacks evolving continuously, the combination of wide-ranging PNT solutions and emerging technologies offers superior protection to current threats by providing a backup to GPS/GNSS and improving national resilience.

"Multiple forms of alternative PNT deliver the broadest possible range of operational and performance characteristics to meet the diverse needs of applications across all industry sectors, plus they can better adapt to future threats than a single technology with its inherent vulnerabilities," said Dr. Michael O'Connor, CEO of Satelles. "The mission of the Open PNT Industry Alliance is to promote open-market concepts that preserve industry's long-term ability to harness its inventive talent to protect GPS/GNSS with multiple solutions that are technologically advanced, commercially viable and based on a sustainable long-term funding framework."

The Open PNT Industry Alliance will share its expertise with governments to aid their efforts to set policies, define regulations and enact laws that achieve their national resilience objectives while preserving competition in the open market. A principal purpose of the coalition is to stimulate and capitalize on the collective intellect of industry in a collaboration between the public sector and private sector.

"The ingenuity of the private sector is spurred by competition and public and private investment, and this will drive the emergence of multiple GPS/GNSS alternatives that are cost effective and evolve according to threat profiles, technological innovations and market dynamics," said Jean-Yves Courtois, CEO of Orolia. "Similarly, unbridled innovation will address new and still evolving use cases not supported by GPS/GNSS."

The advent of the Open PNT Industry Alliance is important because the coalition will work closely with governments as they consider plans for regulation of critical infrastructure sectors and funding for alternative PNT. Legislators and policymakers can best pursue national interest through a multitechnology approach to PNT resilience. The coalition will advocate for the establishment of a robust and self-sustaining funding framework that allows for the development and adoption of multiple sources of PNT that meet the needs of various sectors and industries.

"We believe a multitechnology approach to PNT resilience not only meets a more diverse set of critical infrastructure needs but also ensures a more robust approach to security by providing multilayer resilience,” said Pattabiraman. “Delivering alternative PNT capabilities on an equal footing with GPS will require government policies and funding that ensure these solutions are cost-effective for critical infrastructure providers and sustainable over the long term."

In the United States, for example, the coalition believes the executive order on "Strengthening National Resilience Through Responsible Use of Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Services" issued in February 2020 begins the process for a national alternative PNT policy. The Open PNT Industry Alliance also agrees with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) findings and recommendations in their “Report on Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Backup and Complementary Capabilities to the Global Positioning System (GPS)” submitted to the U.S. Congress in April 2020. The alliance expects to support similar initiatives in other countries.

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