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Out in Front: Yes, We Have No Bananas

February 1, 2015  - By
Image: GPS World

What if the U.S. government stepped in and confiscated all your bananas? Grown foreignly, they lack proper accreditation to enter this country. That they have done so for years is no excuse. They are illegal. Those who consume said bananas engage in unlawful activity. Those who facilitate such consumption — you, in this case, whom we imagine to be a vendor of shakes, smoothies, and fruit juices — are aiding and abetting, colluding, conspiring, something like that.

Bananas are no more above the law than anyone or anything else. They must fill out the proper forms.

And the same goes for all you other tropical fruits out there! If you spring from foreign soil, and if you pack exotic flavors unfamiliar and most important, unapproved, in the land of apple pie.

Today’s bananas are GLONASS signals, and the other fruits, those from other international GNSS. The PNT user community within the United States who use such multi-GNSS signals, other than GPS, technically do so illegally.

These revelations come via the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Some in the industry-user community have been aware of this technicality, and have been patiently awaiting a blanket waiver that would take care of the matter. The waiver will appear, we have been told, any day now.

We are waiting. Sitting, and waiting. Like good citizens of the republic.

A spokesperson for the the GPS Innovation Alliance (formerly the U.S. GPS Industry Council) stated that it, too, is very patiently waiting. “The process for securing a waiver of FCC regulations requiring authorization to receive international RNSS satellite signals was identified in an FCC Public Notice released in 2011. This process is initiated by National RNSS System providers, which have the satellite information needed to secure a waiver. GPSIA members remain fully committed to producing  multi-GNSS signal user equipment consistent with U.S. policy, and to working with the FCC and NTIA in considering these requests.”

To review the FCC/NTIA briefing: “Radio Regulator Spectrum Management Perspectives & Priorities: Emerging Trends in Spectrum-Efficient Technologies,” see

The NTIA and FCC perform these functions on our behalf:

  • Allocate spectrum, while promoting new technologies and services.
  • Develop service rules: share spectrum while minimizing interference risks.
  • Assign frequencies, for interference protection among authorized stations.
  • Enforce rules.

Some of the frequencies used by GLONASS, Galileo, and other foreign PNT systems are not authorized for use in the United States, as they may interfere with other signals. Since they are not authorized or certified, they have no guarantee of protection in the United States. The NTIA and FCC protect users from unauthorized foreign PNT signals.

The European Union and Galileo have formally asked for a waiver and are completing the necessary paperwork.

Let’s hope that common sense prevails soon over international gamesmanship, a waiver is granted, and this all goes away. Such a waiver reportedly sits on the desk of the appropriate person. Sits and has sat.

To our mantra of location, location, location, we must add a corollary.

Education, education, education.

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