Study Finds That a GPS Outage Would Cost $1 Billion Per Day

A new comprehensive study on Global Positioning System technology has examined what effect a 30-day outage would have on the U.S. economy — whether it’s due to a severe space weather event or “nefarious activity by a bad actor.” If a widespread outage were to occur, the study estimates it would have a $1 billion per-day impact. “It would likely be higher during the planting season of April and May, when farmers are highly reliant on GPS technology for information about their fields,” adds Ars Technica. From the report: To assess the effect of an outage, the study looked at several different variables. Among them was “precision timing” that enables a number of wireless services, including the synchronization of traffic between carrier networks, wireless handoff between base stations, and billing management. Moreover, higher levels of precision timing enable higher bandwidth and provide access to more devices. (For example, the implementation of 4G LTE technology would have been impossible without GPS technology). In the case of an outage, there would be relatively minimal impacts over the first two days, but after that time, the wireless network would begin to degrade significantly. After 30 days, the study estimates that functionality would lie somewhere between 0 percent and 60 percent of normal operating levels. Landline phones would be largely unaffected.

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