NENA News, Press, & Stories...: Home Page

NENA Responds to Unfounded GLONASS Concerns

Thursday, January 22, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Nussman
Share |

Statement of NENA: The 9-1-1 Association

The recently-announced Roadmap for Wireless E9-1-1 Location Accuracy improvements is not a "carrier plan.” It is a consensus plan negotiated by the national associations representing the 9-1-1 and field responder radio communities, NENA and APCO, and agreed to by the four national wireless carriers.

The plan does contemplate carrier use of Assisted Global Navigation Satellite Systems ("A-GNSS”) – including both the U.S. NavStar/GPS system and the Russian GLONASS system – as one aspect of a multi-pronged approach to improving wireless E9-1-1 location accuracy.

The consensus plan discusses the GLONASS system as a new component of handset A-GNSS capabilities because it is the only globally-available GNSS, other than NavStar/GPS that is currently operating.

The consensus plan does not restrict carriers’ ability to add or substitute other GNSSs, such as the European Galileo and Chinese BeiDou constellations, as those systems come online over the next 5-7 years. However, neither of these systems is currently available.

Because handset A-GNSS chips can operate with any combination of satellites from any supported constellation, adding GLONASS support to existing GPS capabilities will not provide the Russian Federation with any leverage over U.S. E9‑1‑1 capabilities: Even if the GLONASS system were shut-down completely, handsets in locations with clear views of the sky could still calculate location estimates based solely on measurements of U.S. GPS satellite signals.

Even if Russia attempted to somehow degrade the performance of its satellite network, both carrier networks and consumer handsets would be capable of detecting erroneous signals and rejecting them from a position fix.

The consensus Roadmap makes available the full panoply of rapidly-advancing commercial location technologies for E9-1-1 use for the first time. In the event of a GLONASS failure or shut-down, other high-accuracy handset and network-based technologies – including the ability to return the exact address (including apartment, suite, or floor number) of the caller’s location – will still be available.

It’s true that an NDAA amendment places limits on the proposed construction of Russian monitoring facilities on U.S. soil. That amendment, however, will not impact the availability of GLONASS ranging signals. Transportation and other critical life-safety sectors are rapidly adopting multi-constellation GNSS technology – including GLONASS – because of its ability to improve fix yield and quality.

Using GLONASS, GPS, or any other A-GNSS system would not give any government power over consumers’ 9-1-1 calls: These systems are "receive-only,” and no signals from consumer handsets are ever transmitted to a GNSS satellite.