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Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

Senate bill would require establishment of land-based alternative to GPS satellite timing signals

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In an effort to ensure the reliability and resilience of timing systems used by civilians and the military, a bill recently introduced in the Senate would direct the secretary of transportation to establish a land-based alternative timing system to GPS satellites.

Under the National Timing Resilience and Security Act of 2017, the secretary of transportation would consult the secretary of homeland security and the commandant of the Coast Guard to establish a land-based, resilient, and reliable alternative timing system to GPS satellites.

“Ensuring we have an alternative GPS timing system is critically important to both national and economic security,” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a sponsor of the bill, said. “Currently, there is no active, domestic backup system to GPS, which makes it a single point of failure and poses a vulnerability that our adversaries could exploit. The GPS timing signal is essential to the functioning of cellular networks, the power grid, financial markets, military systems, the internet and even medical devices.”

If the timing signal were disrupted for even a few hours, Cruz continued, critical infrastructure would shut down, posing “an immediate threat to life and the economy” in the United States.

U.S. Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), who sponsored the bill with Cruz, noted that banking, communications, electricity, and transportation sectors all rely on GPS timing signals.

“In the Internet of Things era, we cannot allow natural phenomenon like solar flares or coordinated attacks like jamming to threaten these vital functions,” Markey said. “This legislation will help improve the resilience of our national timing source and improve the reliability of this critical infrastructure.”