U.S. Statement to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

February 10, 2015

A U.S. government representative delivered the following remarks about GPS during the 52nd Session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS), held February 2-13, 2015, in Vienna, Austria.

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Statement by Margaret Kieffer, United States Representative, on Agenda Item 9, "Recent Developments in Global Navigation Satellite Systems"

Mr. Chairman, the United States is pleased to report that the Global Positioning System (GPS) continues to provide reliable and accurate space-based positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) service to the international community. The constellation continues to fly in a 24+3 slot configuration to provide excellent coverage and worldwide availability. Over the past year, the United States pursued both multi-lateral and bi-lateral diplomatic efforts to support compatibility, interoperability, and transparency among current and future space-based PNT providers.

The civil GPS performance commitment has been met continuously since it was first published in December 1993, and we intend to keep this record intact in the future. The entire GPS constellation continues performing at exceptional levels, averaging a user range error of 80 centimeters.

The United States would like to assure the international community that we continue to work diligently to prevent interference to GPS and other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).

In 2014, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took several high-profile enforcement actions against persons who used or sold GPS jammers in the United States. The most notable case was a $34.9 million fine issued to a foreign manufacturer and retailer of jamming devices. The FCC works with its counterparts around the world to encourage location and suppression of illegal GNSS jammers. We urge continued international support for recommendations that resulted from Interference Detection and Mitigation workshops held under the auspices of the International Committee on GNSS (ICG) between 2012 and 2014. In particular, we encourage support for ICG development of educational materials on interference sources, and identification of an official monitoring center recognized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The United States encourages other nations and administrations to take appropriate steps to protect GNSS users from interference and improve GNSS robustness to counter interference.

This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the ICG under the auspices of the United Nations. The ICG has been highly successful in bringing together the providers and users of GNSS to promote its use and integration into infrastructures, particularly in developing countries. Presently the ICG membership is comprised of nine countries and 22 international associations and intergovernmental organizations. I am pleased to announce that the United States will host the 10th meeting of the ICG, in November 2015.

The United States compliments the European Commission and the European GNSS Agency, on the successful hosting of the 9th meeting of the ICG held in Prague, Czech Republic, in November 2014. The report of ICG-9 is contained in document A/AC.105/1083, which was made available to the Subcommittee at the opening of the session. We also commend the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UN OOSA) for its outstanding support and assistance with the planning and organization of the meeting, and for its continued support as the Executive Secretariat for the ICG.

In support of many GNSS-related activities, the United States provides reliable financial support to UN OOSA, including support for regional workshops such as AfricaArray, which helps developing countries obtain benefits from GNSS technology, and continuing UN OOSA support to the ICG and its Providers' Forum.

In addition to its multilateral cooperation on GNSS-related issues, particularly through the ICG, the United States has many productive bi-lateral relationships dealing with satellite navigation issues. Throughout 2014, the United States continued its close cooperation with the European Union on GNSS activities under the 2004 GPS-Galileo Cooperation Agreement. We completed ITU coordination on the next-generation GPS III Reference Assumptions Document (RAD) as well as the new Galileo RAD. We also held our first formal bilateral meeting with China on civil GNSS cooperation, which resulted in a joint statement indicating our intent to continue with these valuable discussions.

In conclusion, let me reiterate several key policy principles. The United States intends to continue improving GPS's accuracy and availability through improved satellite and clock performance and modernized satellites. The United States will continue to broadcast GPS signals free of direct user charges. The United States is committed to keeping GPS as a central pillar in an emerging international system of Global Navigation Satellite Systems. As new systems emerge, signal compatibility and interoperability among GNSS, as well as transparency in the provision of open civil services, will be key factors in ensuring that civil users around the world receive the maximum benefit from GNSS applications. Therefore, the United States continues to strongly support international cooperation among current and future GNSS.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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