Are your GPS devices going to fail on 6th of April?

Over the last few days, there has been a slew of articles on the internet about the possible false of GPS devices across the world due to a changeover of how the GPS time is reported by the app satellites.

Question is how true is it and how worried you Should be?

Quite a lot of people might remember the Y 2K problem which had Caused wide Spread panic worldwide when the date was Supposed to change from 1999 to 2000 by thinking what would happen to computers when the last two digits on the calendar went from 99 to 00 as the year than was reported in YY format?

People panicked as everyone thought the calendar would go from 1999 to 1900 as not 2000. In the end, nothing much happened. But is this a similar problem?

A Similar transition Is happening with the US GPS Satellites which not only sends s the precise coordinates but also sends signals of precise time to Billions of devices around the world. lets’ first try to understand the season of this weird Sorting middle of no Calendar date transition.

Actually, the onboard computers on the GPS Satellites use a 10 bit System to track the number of weeks. Now as a computer use a binary method to understand values, on the above case the maximum value can be 2to the power of 10, which calculates to 1024, ie. the maximum value can be 19years.

So the weeks counter needs to reset to zero every 19 years. Since Gps system went n use on 6th Jan 1980 the 1 st reset happened on 21 Aug 1999 and the next happens on 6th April 2019.

To understand the Significance of Gps based time, a nanosecond error Gps time Is equal to one foot of Position error. Now for timekeeping across the world, GMT has been replaced by UTC and devices get UTC by converting Gps time using Several parameters which include the week counter value from the Satellite. The total number of devices using GPS satellite is to reach 8 billion devices over the next year.

However, this event is nothing like the Y2K problem as that was not planned but all the Gps manufacturers know about the counter reset and to be truthful most devices made in the last 15 years have been made with this event in consideration.

So, most likely you have nothing to worry about and your GPS Should be just fine with this week counter reset unless your manufacturer Cut corners trying to Save Some R&D cost.

Please share if you face or see any weird happenings in your GPS Positioning and how did you resolve the problem. Also, if needed we may try to be of Some help.

2 Comments

  • Just a copy paste text from other sites, I read it assuming the guy will provide some solution, but just a copy paste.

    Reply
    • Dear Pulkit,
      The fact is that this was just another misjudged hype which didn’t require even a basic solution. Even Y2K required some solutions to be implemented in many older CPUs of the time but the GPS Manufacturers of today already have considered this situation and have the solution inbuilt. The purpose of the article was to let the readers know that they do not need to panic if they come across the articles regarding this.
      However unlikely but if you have a GPS device which has become affected by the above issue, please let us know and we will most definitely try to coordinate with your device manufacturer and find you a solution.

      Reply

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