GPS-reliant technology is hugely important to numerous businesses across the globe. As a precaution, those organizations should familiarize themselves with the upcoming GPS Week Number Rollover (WNRO). Below, we’ll run you through everything you need to know.
WNRO is an event with the potential to impact GPS receivers worldwide. Many businesses offer services that rely on GPS, therefore, it’s important to understand how the event could impact the normally smooth functioning of GPS.
A GPS signal contains a time element tracked by weeks. This number is encoded as a 10-bit field in each message. A maximum of 1,024 weeks can go by before GPS receivers need to reset the week number and start counting again from zero. This period is called an epoch, and we’re about to rollover from one epoch to the next.
Our current epoch started on August 1, 1999 and is due to end on April 6, 2019, which is when the rollover takes place.
Yes. In August 1999, when we moved into our current epoch. That was nearly 20 years after the launch of the first GPS satellite. Nothing major happened then, but technology has since become increasingly dependent on GPS.
It’s possible the rollover could create some GPS or timing errors.
No. All GPS systems have the potential to be affected by WNRO.
No, not all. However, GPS is often used as a default system timing service (for example, internet time uses GPS). As such, there’s a touch of unpredictability on whether some internet-related services could be impacted.
Organizations such as Homeland Security in the U.S. and the Australian Cyber Security Centre recommend that critical infrastructure, owners and operators consider a handful of actions. These include ensuring device firmware is up to date and being mindful of the possible impact if receivers stop operating, or report the wrong GPS or Universal Time Coordinated (UTC) information. Additionally, they suggest contacting the GPS receiver manufacturer to ensure the device will not be affected.
The good news is that we don’t anticipate any major issues. It’s likely that service will continue as normal. However, issues might arise that are beyond our control and, as such, we’ve prepared for any surprises and will conduct additional status monitoring during the rollover period.
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