New Iridium-based timing system is an ideal alternative to GPS

The Challenge
GPS and other GNSS signals are now woven into the fabric of technologies we use across many industries. In fact, they play a key role in the operation of critical infrastructure such as communications networks, financial systems, power grids, and more. Despite the fact common GNSS systems do a good job providing solutions for diverse applications, they were never designed to be used in many of the ways applied today. There are distinct deficiencies which were never accounted for when it was first conceived years ago, and as critical applications push the envelope these manifest themselves more often.

First, GNSS signals are weak and easily interrupted accidentally or by intent. In fact, by the time they reach the ground, signals are weaker than the noise naturally generated by the earth itself. They also have limited ability to penetrate structures and work indoors. And with the increasing availability of software defined radios, the ability to spoof GNSS systems is easier than ever. For critical systems that rely upon these signals, these are serious problems.

So how do we get around this?
The answer is a resilient PNT solution. At Spectracom, we have dedicated years to continuously improve the technology to augment signals using additional sources for Satellite Time and Location. Spectracom offers unique STL services to augment GPS signals in partnership with Satelles, the providers of the Iridium constellation of satellites, an ideal solution for augmenting GPS and other GNSS signals for critical applications.

The Iridium constellation was launched by Motorola in the 1990’s to be used for satellite based communications. However, due to the rapid growth of terrestrial wireless communications infrastructure, the need for satellite based comms systems diminished quickly. As a result, the Iridium satellites have been largely underutilized for many years. Today, by meeting the ever-growing need to augment GNSS based systems and make them more resilient for critical applications, the Iridium constellation is reemerging as a powerful solution through STL services offered by Spectracom.

The Iridium satellites orbit the earth at a much lower altitude than the GNSS constellations, resulting in signal strengths approximately 1000 times stronger. This guarantees the signals are much more difficult to jam, in addition to the unprecedented ability to penetrate walls and operate in indoors environments where GNSS signals are typically unable to reach. STL is also highly secure.

It delivers an encrypted signal and uses a license key specific to each receiver, making it almost impossible to spoof. This offers a level of protection not previously available in commercial Products. Used in tandem with GPS and other GNSS signals, STL provides a powerful, accurate, secure, and resilient solution of growing importance for critical applications.