This is from the TMF KVHI thread. I'll repost it here and on Yahoo!, and, since links expire, I will also post the text.|
The sky's the limit
Global positioning satellite use expected to take off
By Kristen Gerencher, CBS MarketWatch
Last Update: 7:40 PM ET May 2, 2000
WASHINGTON (CBS.MW) -- When President Clinton descrambled a satellite signal for civilian use Monday night, the accuracy range for pinpointing a location on Earth shrank from a football field to a tennis court.
It may sound like splitting hairs, but the difference is likely to bring billions of dollars in productivity gains, location-based e-commerce, and savings from better management of mobile assets, experts say.
Taxpayers and businesses who rely on the U.S. government-owned constellation of 28 global positioning satellites (GPS) for activities ranging from hiking to fleet management can now receive satellite-based navigation, positioning and timing that's 10 times more accurate than before.
For years, the U.S government degraded the signal, keeping readings to within 100 meters of a location. That wide range has caused problems navigating where multiple highways run parallel and identifying accident scenes in time to save victims.
Under a protocol known as selective availability, the military aimed to keep the equipment from being used by terrorists. By moving to a localized control system where the military can instead selectively deny service, worldwide GPS users will be able to obtain refined readings without threatening security, said Jason Kim, spokesperson for the InterAgency GPS Executive Board.
"You're going to get 10 to 20 meter accuracy with your basic off-the-shelf Wal-Mart receiver for like $100," Kim said. "That lowered cost barrier will allow GPS to be used in many applications where it's not right now."
The government likely was motivated by competing commercial applications being developed in other countries and a Federal Communications Commission mandate known as E-911 that calls for cell phone makers to provide location information for use in emergencies, said Tim O'Neil, an industry analyst at Wit Soundview in New York.
To be sure, GPS is one of a handful of technologies jockeying for dominance in the positioning business. Companies also are testing terrestrial-based systems such as radio-frequency fingerprinting, angle-of-arrival and time-of-arrival, O'Neil said.
"What's been missing in artificial intelligence is location," he said, noting the growth potential for personalized advertising. "The technology is available, and giving a better degree of specificity is only going to enhance the ability to get the right content to the right person in the right place."
Boon for business
Secretary of Commerce William Daley compared the new capabilities to the seeds of Silicon Valley.
"This move has the potential to do for GPS what the PC has done for computing, making this powerful information technology far more accessible and affordable to the broad public," Daley said in a statement.
The GPS industry's sales this year are projected to double to $16 billion by 2003, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Jonathan Lawrence, an automotive-technology analyst at Dain Rauscher Wessels in New York, puts the figure at $13 billion by 2005.
"I think it benefits everybody, especially in the safety and security field, because it will allow more accurate location to be delivered to emergency services if there is an accident," he said. "Drivers say that safety and security is the most important feature to them."
Even so, Lawrence said he doesn't expect a better navigation tool to set off an onslaught of purchasing. "I don't think it's going to be that big of an impact on the consumer side because I think most people's perception is that GPS is fairly accurate now," he said. "Even 100 yards is pretty good."
Another big brother?
At first glance, technology that conveys location information may rattle consumers worried about the potential for inappropriate surveillance, but GPS is a one-way broadcast, Kim said. There's no transmission of a person's location unless it's used in combination with a transmitter, he said.
While privacy is a legitimate concern, upgraded positioning accuracy shouldn't sound an alarm, said Charlie Trimble, chairman of Washington-based U.S. GPS Industry Council, a trade group comprised of manufacturers Rockwell (ROK: news, msgs), Honeywell (HON: news, msgs), Magellan/Orbital Sciences (ORB: news, msgs), Boeing (BA: news, msgs), and Trimble (TRMB: news, msgs), whose shares rose 4.9 percent Tuesday, closing at 32 1/4.
Trimble said consumers can control knowledge of their personal whereabouts by choosing to turn off their wireless devices. He said most GPS units don't have integrated two-way communications functionality yet, but those that do pose a familiar risk.
"It's certainly a concern with regards to who gets to look at the data which is coupled between a cellular telephone and a GPS receiver," Trimble said, noting it's a particular issue for mobile Internet use.
"I think the service providers are going to have to ensure their customer base some level of anonymity in much the same way that you're assured some level of protection when you use your credit card over the Internet."
O'Neil said the benefits of having GPS technology embedded in devices outweigh the risks. He projects that in five to eight years, 70 percent of Americans will have a cell phone, many of which will be "always-on."
"We will then know where every single human asset is as long as that human asset has the wireless device turned on," O'Neil said. "You'd have to be more proactive to protect your privacy in this instance."
Robert Peck, satellite communications analyst at Lehman Brothers in New York, said the enhancement will bring attention to two-way communication products coming to market with combined GPS and messaging, such as ORBCOMM, Leo-One and Final Analysis.
Those systems will advance GPS technology and allow for remote asset monitoring across the globe, he said, pointing to the ability to adjust the temperature of a refrigerated railroad car, for example.
Peck said he expects equipment producers like Trimble, Lowrance (LEIX: news, msgs), and Garmin to be direct beneficiaries.
"Having the equipment makers be able to add this extra functionality and having these systems coming out down the road doing this two-way stuff is the big win for consumers."
Kristen Gerencher is a personal finance reporter for CBS MarketWatch.