The Global Positioning System: Assessing National Policies

By Scott Pace; Gerald Frost et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter Four
COMMERCIAL ASSESSMENt

the commercial uses of GPS are diverse and many, with applications across industry. Some applications are simple, such as determining a position, whereas others are complex blends of GPS with communications and other technologies. the rapid growth of commercial applications in recent years has come as a surprise to many industry observers and firms building GPS satellites and equipment for the U.S. Department of Defense. As a result, there has been a lag in understanding the commercial implications of government policy decisions and how commercial developments can create both opportunities and challenges for policymakers.

this chapter discusses the commercial growth of GPS applications and technologies, with special attention to potential implications for national policy. the first section reviews the various kinds of civil and commercial applications of GPS and how they are categorized. Attention is paid to the demand for "high end" applications, such as submeter positioning and precision timing, which represent areas of particular commercial importance. the second section reviews U.S. and Japanese projections for the growth of commercial GPS markets, with particular attention to the use of GPS in car navigation, which is expected to represent a large segment of the consumer market. the third section rates the competitive position of firms and countries in GPS technology through analysis of patent trends. Although government funding was vital to the initial development of GPS technology, a competitive commercial market now provides the major incentive for further advances.

Moving from the technical and economic realities of commercial GPS to the policy environment, the fourth section looks at potential changes to the civilian GPS signal now being provided. Commonly discussed changes include the elimination of selective availability and greater nonmilitary access to the Precise Positioning Service. We discuss the potential commercial implications of these changes. Looking beyond the GPS system itself, the U.S. government intends to provide civil augmentations to GPS to improve public safety and navigation services to aviation, maritime, and other users. the fifth section

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