With the popularity of all kinds of vehicles, GPS signals are being widely used throughout the world. Consequently, gradually GPS jammers are also in much more demand by people in the hope of fight against the unwanted GPS tracking or even spying. Or alternatively, GPS jammer might be utilized for evil purposes. So what is the background of GPS in the UK? Now let’s take a look.
As has been confirmed by a secret network of 20 road surveillance stations across the UK, criminals are regularly trying to block GPS signals. The Sentinel network, set up by the government’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and operated by Chronos Technology in the Forest of Dean, United Kingdom, has recorded an average of ten disruptions per month since September 2011.
“Our jammers use very small GPS receivers like those in cell phones. They are installed in places where our partner companies have unexplained failures in their professional GPS jammers,” said Chronos CEO Charles Curry. “The jammers sweep a signal through the GPS band by 1.5 gigahertz and we record the influence that affects the local GPS signal.” The British surveying authority Ordnance Survey was a victim of these GPS failures.
Details of the 60 incidents so far are rather sparse, as Sentinel is still evaluating the causes, but at least one jammer has been confiscated. Curry says, most of the jammers appear to be used by truckers to prevent tachographs from working in the cab, prevent their superiors from being tracked, or prevent thieves from stealing commercial vehicles. “The one which was seized by police is the type that fits in a vehicle and is powered by a cigarette lighter socket,” he says.
It is odd enough in some places that more than one person appears to be responsible for the jamming: Chronos tries to differentiate between different jamming stations in order to “get a better idea of how many people are interfering with GPS in a certain place”. Vigilantes could be a source: A big problem with GPS is the way some small villages and towns visit dangerously oversized trucks – often stuck in tiny streets – to follow the shortcuts recommended by the satnavs. It is possible for locals to place jammers to prevent motorists’ anti-social behavior.
The GPS signal is weak and can be easily jammed – its radiation is only as intense as a car headlight from a distance of 20,000 kilometers. Hundreds of online retailers illegally sell jammers online and at the same time the GPS signal has quickly become the critical national infrastructure. In addition to positioning services via satellite, the atomic clocks on board the satellites also provide important clock signals for systems as diverse as cell towers and banking systems – they fall over without GPS.
Therefore it is not surprising that a US company called LightSquared, which once wanted to operate a 4G cellular service very close to GPS frequencies, was prevented by the Federal Communications Commission. It was unable to show that its technology could avoid GPS signals that deviate from the allocated bandwidth.
The conference will also hear how the GPS signal jammer can be faked so that navigation devices are lured in the wrong direction. Also you can see videos of how spoofing works at the University of Texas. Spoofer could become the last equivalent of destroyers who made false lights to pull ships onto the rocks. The general Lighthouse Authorities, for example, suspect that ships are now so dependent on GPS signals that they can safely expect “an incident” in the world’s densest ship – the English Channel – that will be caused by GPS interference, traffic jams or spoofing in the next decade.