NextNav, Satelles Establish Alternative PNT Test Bed in San Francisco
Tuesday, October 05, 2021 | Comments

NextNav and Satelles, partnered on an alternative positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) test bed in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Designed and managed by NextNav with a timing source from Satelles, the test bed creates scenarios and conditions to rigorously test the precision and resilience of alternative PNT solutions, allowing technologies to be evaluated in the absence of signals from the GPS and other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).

NextNav recently used the test bed to demonstrate the precision and resilience of the company’s TerraPoiNT network in a GPS-denied environment using STL from Satelles as its absolute timing source. This demonstration for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) showcased the timing accuracy and resilience of TerraPoiNT, which delivered timing synchronization better than 50 nanoseconds in urban and semi-urban settings. As a source of GPS/GNSS-independent time that the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) determined is highly consistent with Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), including in deep indoor environments, STL provided the timing signal for the demo instead of GPS.

“Demonstrating the accuracy and resilience of alternative PNT solutions is integral in validating the capabilities of alternative PNT solutions, and ultimately, increasing adoption across use cases and applications,” said Ashu Pande, TerraPoiNT vice president (VP) at NextNav. “With the development of this test bed, we can emulate real world deployment scenarios and can more effectively instill confidence across the PNT industry in the viability of alternate PNT solutions.”

The advent of the alternative PNT test bed is timely given the recent publication of “Understanding Vulnerabilities of Positioning, Navigation, and Timing” by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which is part of DHS. The publication urges owners and operators of critical infrastructure to adopt the responsible use of PNT as defined in Executive Order 13905. The new test bed will be used to demonstrate applications for emergency services, telecommunications, financial markets, the electrical grid and other critical infrastructure sectors.

“The development of this test bed will enable the rigorous, transparent, and replicable testing of alternative PNT solutions,” said Christina Riley, VP of commercial PNT at Satelles. “We’re excited to be integrated as the GNSS-independent timing reference for this alternative PNT testbed and are looking forward to continuing our collaborative work to build stronger PNT solutions to augment GPS globally.”

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