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Old 07-08-2019, 02:06 PM
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My Fellow Americans: Your Smartphone is (Probably) Illegal!


In addition to the United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS), there are a number of other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) in our world. The three others that have global or near-global service are Russia’s GLONASS, the European Union’s Galileo and China’s BeiDou.

As described in this blog post by the American developer of a common smartphone GNSS testing app, the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR) states that “Receive-only earth stations operating with non-U.S. licensed space stations shall file an FCC Form 312 requesting a license or modification to operate such station”. This has been interpreted as prohibiting U.S.-based GNSS receivers from receiving signals from foreign GNSS signals without a waiver from the FCC. As such, most smartphones located in the U.S. would not use Galileo even if they had the hardware to support it. Fortunately, in November 2018 the FCC granted a waiver allowing the use of Galileo in the U.S. Since then, manufactures have begun removing the Galileo geofencing.

Here’s where the catch is- while the EU sought and received a waiver for Galileo and most phone manufacturers previously blocked the receipt of the Galileo signals, nearly all smartphones sold since 2014 have supported and made use of dual GPS/GLONASS satellite signals, even though GLONASS has never been granted a waiver. Thus, every time you use GNSS on your phone on U.S. territory, you are violating the law.

Personally, I think this rule should be modified to not apply to GNSS receivers. It serves no real purpose and is unenforceable. Let’s discuss!
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Old 07-08-2019, 03:36 PM
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Ha! I scoff at the law - they'll never find me!

wait...
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Old 07-08-2019, 04:16 PM
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From what I understand, it's not us, the end users who are violating the law, but rather some combination of the Russian government along with the hardware and software vendors who allow the phones to use GLONASS. I don't even think I could turn off GLONASS usage if I rooted my phone.

I'm also fairly annoyed that despite the November waiver by the FCC, we're all STILL waiting on some kind of patch to disable the geofencing that prevents the use of GALILEO satellites within the US. In other words, if I take my phone outside the US, it'll use GALILEO, but once I come back in, it'll stop using them.

Last edited by bump; 07-08-2019 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 07-08-2019, 08:52 PM
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Galileo and BeiDou are basically economic programs for local industry. GLONASS is older, and technically different. and dual-receivers gave you something you couldn't get from either GLONASS or GPS individually: GLONASS was accurate, but often not in sight: GSM was in sight, but not very accurate.
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:14 AM
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Huh? Navstar/GPS is the oldest GNSS satellite constellation- the first launch was in 1978, and full coverage was achieved in 1995. GLONASS is slightly newer, but works in essentially the same way as GPS (as do all GNSS systems really), with the main differences being in the technical details of frequencies, etc...

GALILEO is the EU equivalent, and is slightly more accurate with its single-frequency signal- roughly 1 meter accuracy vs. the 3 meter GPS/GLONASS accuracy. Of course all 3 are significantly more accurate when their dual-frequency signals are used.

BEIDOU is the Chinese equivalent, and is more comparable with GPS/GLONASS.

QZSS is a Japanese GPS enhancement for their piece of Asia and the Pacific- receivers using both GPS and QZSS can get 0.1 meter accuracy.
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
I'm also fairly annoyed that despite the November waiver by the FCC, we're all STILL waiting on some kind of patch to disable the geofencing that prevents the use of GALILEO satellites within the US. In other words, if I take my phone outside the US, it'll use GALILEO, but once I come back in, it'll stop using them.
Why would that annoy you? Does it matter which satellites your phone is using?
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Old 07-09-2019, 09:06 AM
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Why would that annoy you? Does it matter which satellites your phone is using?
I'm guessing this is the annoyance:

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Originally Posted by bump View Post
GALILEO is the EU equivalent, and is slightly more accurate with its single-frequency signal- roughly 1 meter accuracy vs. the 3 meter GPS/GLONASS accuracy. Of course all 3 are significantly more accurate when their dual-frequency signals are used.
GALILEO is a little more accurate. Makes those geocaches a little easier to find.
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Old 07-09-2019, 12:44 PM
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Yep, I'm annoyed that we have a better solution, and it was originally held up by petty bureaucracy, and now is being held up by whatever development cycle they're using over at Google.

How cool is it that your phone could tell you where you are within a circle one meter wide? It's already pretty amazing that it'll do it within a 10 foot circle. And once they start taking advantage of dual-frequency GPS/GALILEO/GLONASS, it'll be accuracy of something like 0.3 meter/1 foot.

Stuff like driving directions will be able to tell you when you're in the wrong lane. Places like stores could use it to guide you to the product on the shelves. And I imagine it could take a lot of the fun out of geocaching.
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Old 07-09-2019, 01:54 PM
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Stuff like driving directions will be able to tell you when you're in the wrong lane. .
This will be one of the best parts!
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Old 07-09-2019, 02:06 PM
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Why is there any regulation of receive-only stations at all? I mean, it makes plenty of sense to regulate anything that can transmit: There's a limited amount of bandwidth available, after all. But why should anyone care what anyone else is receiving?
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Old 07-09-2019, 02:20 PM
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Why is there any regulation of receive-only stations at all? I mean, it makes plenty of sense to regulate anything that can transmit: There's a limited amount of bandwidth available, after all. But why should anyone care what anyone else is receiving?

Part of it is the transmitter expecting that they gotsta get paid by the reciever, I expect. The same way you aren't supposed to descamble scrambled channels on a cable TV wire that runs into YOUR house to YOUR TV.
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Old 07-09-2019, 02:22 PM
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First, I tore the tags off my mattress. Then, I didn't wash my recyclables. Then I drank the last cup of coffee and didn't make a fresh pot. Now, it's illegal Russian GPS signals.

I'm giving up and turning to a life of crime.

runs off to use the images or depictions of professional golf without the express written permission of the PGA

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 07-09-2019, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Why is there any regulation of receive-only stations at all? I mean, it makes plenty of sense to regulate anything that can transmit: There's a limited amount of bandwidth available, after all. But why should anyone care what anyone else is receiving?
This may go back to the days before cellphone signals were scrambled/encrypted; it required some sort of license (I think it was limited to "education" and "military") to own a receiver that could get anything between 800 and 900 MHz, as you could hear unscrambled cellphone messages. I used to have a TV that had a screw for each channel button to tune into a particular channel, and if you tuned it to a high enough frequency, you could listen in on them.
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Why is there any regulation of receive-only stations at all? I mean, it makes plenty of sense to regulate anything that can transmit: There's a limited amount of bandwidth available, after all. But why should anyone care what anyone else is receiving?
According to this article from Inside GNSS magazine, it has to do with the WTO Telecom Agreement from the 1990s and was not targeted at the use of foreign GNSS, but the FCC determined it was covered by the regulation.

In her comments (TXT) supporting granting the waiver for Galileo, commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel stated what I believe to be the reality of the foreign GNSS situation- the horse has left the barn, and the commission should change their rules to reflect that:

Quote:
While our rules require wireless devices in the United States to have a license—like the one we grant here—before operating with foreign satellites, the reality is more complicated. Go ahead, pull out your phone. Now look up the device specifications for it online. There’s a very good chance that it is already capable of receiving not just the European signals we give the go ahead for today, but also Russian and Chinese signals, too. That’s because our phones are built to be used anywhere in the world—not just the United States. So they include chips that are designed to operate with global navigation satellite systems of other countries.

If you read the record in this proceeding and others like it, it becomes clear that many devices in the United States are already operating with foreign signals. But nowhere in our record is there a good picture of how many devices in this country are interacting with these foreign satellite systems, what it means for compliance with our rules, and what it means for the security of our systems. We should change that. Technology has gotten ahead of our approval policies and it’s time for a true-up.
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Old 07-13-2019, 05:00 AM
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The initial horizontal accuracy of GPS was around 20-30 m. The original horizontal accuracy of GLONASS was around 5-10 m, offering superior coverage at the poles, but inferior coverage over the rest of the world. The satalite patterns are different. GSM/GLONASS pre-dated differential GPS and RTK GPS, and one of the early uses of GLONASS was to provide base-station location for differential GPS

dual-receivers gave you something you couldn't get from either GLONASS or GPS individually: GLONASS was accurate, but often not in sight: GSM was in sight, but not very accurate.
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Old 07-13-2019, 08:56 AM
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Thus, every time you use GNSS on your phone on U.S. territory, you are violating the law.
"If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, "the law is a ass - a idiot".
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Old 07-13-2019, 09:59 PM
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We have a Galileo outage: https://insidegnss.com/update-galile...roblems-cited/

Further, since the article was posted, the European GNSS Agency issued the following Notice Advisory to Galileo Users:

Quote:
NOTICE ADVISORY TO GALILEO USERS (NAGU) 2019026
DATE GENERATED (UTC): 2019-07-13 20:15

NAGU TYPE: GENERAL
NAGU NUMBER: 2019026
NAGU SUBJECT: SERVICE OUTAGE
NAGU REFERENCED TO: 2019025
START DATE EVENT (UTC): 2019-07-12 01:50
END DATE EVENT (UTC): N/A
SATELLITE AFFECTED: ALL

EVENT DESCRIPTION: UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, USERS EXPERIENCE A SERVICE OUTAGE. THE SIGNALS ARE NOT TO BE USED.
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