Out in Front: Big Bang Cheery

January 1, 2012  - By

By Alan Cameron

A supersize bunch of pent-up GNSS just bust out all over. GLONASS is fully operational for the first time in more than 15 years. At least one Galileo in-orbit validation satellite broadcasts the new E1 and E5 signals, maybe both satellites by the time you read this. Compass has completed its regional navigation constellation. The first GPS III satellite testbed arrived at its integration and testing site in Colorado. The Russian SBAS is climbing back onto the air again. And QZSS has been quietly making progress, almost unnoticed.

For the first column since last February, I can write about something besides LightSquared.

Oops, I did it again.

But what a breath of sweet, fresh air.

Maybe now we can get back to the real business of this community: building systems, integrating sensors, exploring applications, and making the world a better place.

Can’t resist one last note about those creative financiers, now under Securities Exchange Commission investigation, over at LightSquared. A little bird overheard a certain someone say in mid-December, “I was at the FCC on Monday. The discussion was only about what happens after the LS bankruptcy. They are done with LS. This is all about positioning for litigation right now.”

Of course it’s not all over yet but the kicking and screaming. Companies have powerful lawyers and white houses have long tentacles into federal agencies.

Be that as it may, I promised to talk about GNSS, the whole GNSS, and nothing but the GNSS.

We, and by that I mean you, on three continents, are just kicking the milestones over. I’ve never seen a month in which so much progress was made on all fronts: GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Compass, and QZSS. It has been my experience that a step forward for one system is often matched by a step back or at least sideways for another. It is after all a system of systems, and complex systems are by nature fraught with potential for temporary setback.

Knock on wood, interoperability moved further toward our grasp in the period November 28 to December 16, 2011, than during any other comparable span. We sometimes talk about a coming Golden Age of GNSS. We just witnessed the Golden Growth Spurt.

A brief note: With this issue, I assume the responsibilities of publisher of this magazine, as well as editor-in-chief. With colleagues Chris Litton (associate publisher, international account manager), the invaluable Tracy Cozzens (managing editor), and Charles Park (art director), we are collectively worth slightly south of three digits of GNSS experience. Count on us to keep a steady stream of business and technical news coming your way, and to keep this forum open for your views and opinons.

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This article is tagged with , and posted in From the Magazine, Opinions

About the Author:

Alan Cameron is editor-in-chief and publisher of GPS World magazine, where he has worked since 2000. He also writes the monthly GNSS Design & Test e-Newsletter and the Wide Awake blog.

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