NextNav demos GPS-free PNT network for critical infrastructure

August 16, 2021  - By

The trial for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security showcases the precise, resilient timing capabilities of NextNav’s TerraPoiNT service in the event GPS is unavailable.

NextNav has successfully demonstrated the timing precision and resilience of its terrestrial positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) system, TerraPoiNT, in a recent evaluation by the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS S&T).

The trial tested the timing redundancy of the TerraPoiNT system in a number of scenarios, including instances of GPS outages, spoofing and jamming. It validates TerraPoiNT’s capabilities as a terrestrial, GPS-free network capable of powering critical national infrastructure in the event of GPS failure.

During a simulated 72-hour GPS outage, the TerraPoiNT service was able to deliver a timing accuracy better than 50 nanosecond in urban and semi-urban environments, successfully meeting timing requirements for various applications including 5G networks, the synchronization of the power grid, and more.

In addition, TerraPoiNT provided precise timing and redundancy utilizing two alternate absolute timing sources — atomic clock (Cesium/Rb) and LEO satellite (Satelles).

“GPS is critical infrastructure, but it has its limitations,” said Ganesh Pattabiraman, co-founder and CEO of NextNav. “In working with DHS S&T, we’ve validated that TerraPoiNT can serve as an important backup to GPS and ensure the resilience and continuity of our nation’s most critical systems, including next-generation telecommunications networks, financial services, and power grids.”

Satelles STL

STL from Satelles was one of two alternate absolute timing sources for the trial. Available today on a global basis, STL is a service that provides alternative PNT independent of GPS, supporting PNT-reliant applications such as 5G communications networks, high-frequency trading in financial markets, and electrical grids throughout the United States and around the world.

“Satelles applauds NextNav for conducting a successful field demonstration of its resilient PNT service, and we were delighted to have played an instrumental part in the exhibition,” said Christina Riley, vice president of Commercial PNT.

NextNav’s selection of STL to help demonstrate their own technology’s operation in the absence of GPS was a natural fit. That’s because earlier this year the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) confirmed STL as an accurate and reliable source for the wide-area delivery of Coordinated Universal Time independent of GPS/GNSS.

Previous TerraPoiNT evaluations

The successful trial builds on recent evaluations of TerraPoiNT conducted by independent bodies. Earlier this year, the Department of Transportation (DOT) evaluated 11 alternate PNT solutions, in which each was rigorously tested across applications and scenarios. As a result of the evaluation, the DOT named TerraPoiNT the best and only performing solution across all PNT categories.

Spartacus. In June, NextNav entered into a definitive merger agreement with Spartacus Acquisition Corporation in a transaction that would result in NextNav being listed on the Nasdaq. The transaction is expected to close late in the third quarter of 2021 or early in the fourth quarter of 2021, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

Image: kanawatvector/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Image: kanawatvector/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.