Dr. Neal Lane
Assistant to the President for Science and Technology

Keynote Address Institute of Navigation GPS 99 Conference
Nashville, Tennessee

September 14, 1999



 

Good Evening.  It’s always a pleasure to speak to such an enthusiastic group of innovators and entrepreneurs as this one – forward thinking people who know precisely where you are at any moment in time.  Believe me, I share your enthusiasm, because I can’t think of any area of technology today that’s more exciting than GPS.

I know the next few days here are going to be filled with detailed technical sessions on a whole range of important GPS issues.  So I thought I’d take a few minutes tonight to review in general terms of how far global positioning has come and how fast.  Then look in more detail at a couple of likely challenges to this community in the immediate future.  I’ll conclude with a status report on the Federal budget for science and technology, using GPS as an important example to highlight issues and upcoming events in Washington in which you have an important stake.

It is probably true that human beings – even before recorded history – have dreamed of being able to pinpoint their location on earth, to add a sense of place to their other senses, to feel security in the knowledge that they were centered in a specific spot at a specific time.  No wonder you are so excited about what you have accomplished.  You can be proud to be associated with the technology that has given us just such a gift – through the modern marvel of navigation satellite systems.  And we all share the enthusiasm for that magnificent achievement and what it promises for the future.

I’m sure we’ve all heard at least one or two of the jokes in recent years based on the stereotype that “real men don’t ask directions.”  I won't repeat any here, but, there was an incident in the news, so it must be true, a couple of years ago about an elderly couple in Kenilworth, New Jersey, who left their home to drive to the doctor’s office 2.8 miles away, with the husband driving.  After 24 hours, they had driven for 800 miles through three states.  According to the Associated Press, the husband had simply refused to ask directions during the entire trip.  An incredibly patient wife, I might add.

Well, whether you believe the story or not, at long last, everyone – even “real” men – can find their precise position without seeking an outside opinion.  In the future, we will see GPS receivers smaller than credit cards, and affordable enough for use in almost any vehicle, cell phone, or pocket, for that matter.  With every square yard on earth measured and labeled with an address, and eventually every grid point in space, and with computerized databases available that give latitude and longitude as well as addresses, it’s conceivable that no one will ever again need to ask directions.

Let’s look briefly at exactly where we are and how we got here.

Less than 30 years ago, GPS was only a glint in the eyes of DoD scientists, engineers, and planners.  Although they recognized the military potential of a system that could accurately determine your location anywhere on the face of the earth, no one back then could have predicted the tremendous impact that GPS would have on all our lives.

Since the original Department of Defense approval of the navigational concept in 1973, through launch of the first GPS satellite in 1978, and on to the present array of 27 operational satellites, GPS has matured into a major force in the global economy.  It's a story not unlike that  of the Internet!  Among all the economic stars generated by technology sectors over the past decade, GPS has been a genuine superstar.
 

The world has changed radically since GPS was first conceived.  Civil applications for GPS have grown beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and are limited only by the imaginations of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs such as yourselves.  GPS-based car navigation systems today can tell you not only where you are, they can even tell you literally when to take the next left turn.  GPS-equipped golf carts can show you exactly where you are on the course and how far it is to the pin.  (Less helpful if your ball is no longer on the course).  When integrated with today's cell phone technology, GPS can provide unparalleled emergency location capabilities, helping to speed the response of police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and rescue personnel to the scene of an accident – saving valuable minutes and countless lives.  I've even seen advertisements recently for a new wristwatch-size GPS receiver.  With the future already upon us, who can predict what might come next?

Such nonmilitary applications are creating global markets for GPS equipment and services that are projected to exceed $6 billion this year and more than $16 billion per year in the first half of the next decade.  These new markets, which have brought thousands of new, high-paying jobs throughout the United States, are just one example of the tremendous impact that information technology more broadly is having on our economy.  Even the original GPS designers could not have predicted this kind of growth, with any confidence.

It's ironic that so much of GPS' success has been in nonmilitary applications, since civil GPS signals were included in the design of the original system only as an afterthought.  It wasn't until 1983 that these civil capabilities were formally offered to the world, following the downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007.  And the first comprehensive statement of U.S. policy on GPS, which firmly established joint civil-military management of the system, was released only a few short years ago, by the Clinton Administration.

Under this Administration, we are making improvements to GPS that will ensure that GPS continues to meet military needs well into the next century and that civil markets and applications will continue to expand.  We are modernizing the core GPS system to provide enhanced signals, and developing augmentations to GPS that are designed to increase its accuracy, integrity, and availability to meet the increasingly stringent demands of safety-of-life applications such as civil aviation, maritime shipping, positive train control, and intelligent transportation systems.

In January, the Vice President announced a new $400 million six year GPS modernization initiative that is included in the President's FY 2000 Balanced Budget proposal.  This initiative will add two new civil signals, more robust and jam-resistant military signals, improved navigation messages, and increased signal strength to the GPS satellites.  I'll have more to say on this a little later.

Of course, the kind of success enjoyed by GPS does not come without difficulties.  We need to acknowledge that the next few years will bring some new and complex challenges to the community you represent.  I want to take just a couple of minutes now to look at a few of these.

For example, next year at the World Radio Communication Conference, referred to as "WRC" 2000, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) will be tackling a number
of important GPS frequency spectrum issues.  These include (1) protecting the current GPS civil signal from interference, (2) adding new directional allocations to protect space applications of GPS, and (3) obtaining an allocation for the new civil signal.

Our highest priority, of course, is protecting the spectrum in which the current GPS civil signal is broadcast.  This became a big issue two years ago at WRC 97, when international commercial interests proposed reallocating a portion of the GPS spectrum for shared use with mobile satellite service.  Defeating that proposal required the personal involvement of a number of senior Administration officials as well as coordinated action by the global GPS user community – including many of you here tonight.  I'm pleased that, together, we were successful in postponing consideration of that proposal until WRC 2000.
One of the lessons we learned from the WRC 97 experience was that many of the ITU member country representatives, each of whom has a vote at the conference, did not understand what GPS is, what benefits it is capable of providing, or that its signals are free and already being used extensively in their own countries to benefit their citizens. Since WRC 97, the United States has been conducting a coordinated campaign of interagency and industry technical studies and international outreach designed to educate the international telecommunications community about GPS.  We want to make sure people know how GPS is being used around the world to improve agriculture, commerce, transportation, and public safety, and why it is important that the spectrum in which GPS operates be protected from interference.  It appears that our campaign is beginning to bear fruit.

ITU Working Party 8D, which has responsibility for preparing recommendations for WRC 2000 on these GPS spectrum issues, has determined in its preliminary report that sharing between radio navigation satellite systems and mobile satellite services is not feasible in any portion of the band currently used by GPS.  This report also recognizes the many critical timing, positioning, and navigation uses of GPS, and the fact that it continues to undergo a tremendous expansion that drives further evolution.

Although it appears that we have turned the corner on this particular GPS spectrum issue, we will continue our campaign of international outreach to educate the telecommunications community about the need to protect the GPS civil signals as we approach WRC 2000.  I would like to encourage your continued support in this effort.

The issue of protecting GPS use in space also appears to be in pretty good shape, and we believe we will get the support we need in the international community to obtain directional allocations for GPS use
in spacecraft navigation and positioning.  Of course, there are always details to work out, and some of the options under consideration by
the ITU to achieve these allocations are more appealing to the United States than others.  But this is a common need for all spacefaring nations, and we are optimistic that we will be successful.

I believe the most challenging GPS-related issue facing us at the upcoming WRC 2000 will be obtaining an international allocation
for the new safety-of-life signal that is being added to GPS as part of
our modernization.  Although there appears to be no open opposition to this new allocation, the frequency selected for the new civil GPS signal presents some difficulties for some regions of the world – particularly Europe, where existing ground-based navigation aids such
as the Distance Measuring Equipment (DMEs) used in civil aviation could prevent use of the new GPS signal at certain altitudes.  We are working closely with European and other civil aviation authorities to better understand how and where GPS and DMEs can coexist, and hope to resolve these issues before the Conference.  So, borrowing a common Washington phrase, I would say that on this issue we are "cautiously optimistic."

Speaking of Europe, another development this year has made it even more crucial to Europe's interests that the current allocations for radionavigation satellite systems such as GPS be protected:  the announcement of the planned Galileo project.  As you know, the European Commission announced in February tht it intends to develop Galileo, a European global navigation satellite system similar to GPS.  The definition phase of the Galileo project has begun and is funded through calendar year 2000.  During this phase, the Commission will continue to assess policy, financing, and regulatory issues while the European Space Agency (ESA) addresses the technical definition of the Galileo system.

In a recent meeting with ESA Secretary General Antonio Rodota, I noted that, although we are committed to ensuring that GPS and its augmentations continue to meet the needs of civil users worldwide well into the next century, the United States recognizes that development of a seamless, interoperable global system with a European component could potentially have additional benefits.  We were happy to see in the Galileo proposal that the commission supports the concept of a GPS-based "open architecture" that we presented to them last fall.  But I also expressed to Mr. Rodota some concerns we have about the Galileo proposal.

The Commission has proposed that part of the funding for Galileo will come from new taxes on satellite navigation receivers sold in Europe (including GPS receivers), and from user fees for "controlled access" Galileo services that could be made mandatory in Europe through government regulations.

We are concerned that the proposed taxes and regulatory mechanisms that might be used to help finance the Galileo system could impose financial and operational burdens – such as dual equippage requirements – on users not only in Europe, but around the world.  In addition, the mandatory use of Galileo's controlled access civil services for targeted users does not fit within our concept of a GPS-based "open architecture," in which civil navigation, positioning, and timing signals are openly available and free of direct user fees.

Clearly we have some work to do if we are to bring our differences in philosophy closer together, but I believe a great deal of common ground already exists – and there is plenty of fertile soil left to till.

We are following with great interest European technical and policy developments on Galileo, and we look forward to working with ESA as it conducts the Galileo technical definition studies over the coming year.

We are also looking forward to continued constructive dialogue with the European Commission on the policy, financing, and regulatory issues associated with the Galileo proposal as part of this dialogue.  In fact, we anticipate that the European Commission will issue a formal negotiating mandate early next month, and that we will then enter formal negotiations with them on GPS-Galileo cooperation.  It is becoming increasingly clear that Galileo is moving closer to reality, giving us an opportunity to serve even more people across the world by ensuring cooperation between the two systems.
So far this evening, I've reviewed the history of extraordinary accomplishments in GPS, and noted some of the complex policy challenges that lie just over the horizon.  Now in closing I'd like to
ask us to take a very practical look at the more immediate situation regarding the important role of Federal funding in science and technology, especially the current budget debate on Capitol Hill.
I want to talk about money for a minute.

I must confess that I never tire of hearing expert economists point out that science and technological innovation has been the principal driver of our economy for at least the past half-century – creating new jobs and new businesses, making old businesses more efficient, and improving our quality of life.  Why, even George Will wrote the following sentence the other day:  "Science and commerce have imparted far more direction and velocity to social change than politics ever has."  That's the kind of observation that should remind all of us in the S&T community of how much we contribute to American society.

It would seem obvious that Federal support for science and technology would be high on anyone's list of priorities.  But it's not so clear in Washington, where the debate over science and technology budgets continues within the larger debate over budget surpluses, proposed tax cuts, and where the money will come from.  As of now, if Congress has its way, scientific and technical communities like yours will be seriously impacted.

At the beginning of the FY 2000 budget process last February, bipartisan support for strong, stable investment in science and technology never seemed more resilient.  The President submitted
a balanced budget that, for the seventh year in a row, requested an increase in civilian research and development funding.  The House
had just released a report, "Unlocking our Future:  Toward a New National Science Policy," (authored by Congressman Verne Ehlers of

Michigan) that reaffirmed a commitment to America's preeminence in science and technology.  The House was also considering legislation that would dramatically increase funding for information technology research – a key Administration goal – and the Senate had endorsed legislation that would double civilian R&D funding over the next 11 years.

Today, however, as Congress continues to debate the FY 2000 budget, the story is very different.  It is deeply disappointing to find that the current budget reality is no match for the early rhetoric.  House action to date has decimated the President's R&D budget request with:

· Cuts of 70 percent to the Information Technology for the 21st Century (IT2) initiative;

· $1.8 billion in cuts from the President's civilian R&D request;

· $1 billion in cuts to NASA's budget that threaten 30 space missions, slash space and earth science programs, and defer
Shuttle safety improvements and critical Space Station capabilities; and

· Cuts to the National Science Foundation (by $275 million) and the Department of Energy's science programs (by $116 million) that threaten funding for university-based research involving tens of thousands of researchers and educators.  These cuts would send a strong negative message to students at all levels across the country about future careers in science and technology.

Such budget cuts would devastate the U. S. science and technology community, seriously threatening the future U. S. economy, and U.S.
Leadership.  And for the community you represent, the cuts proposed by Congress would seriously threaten the future of GPS.

The growing civil use of GPS has helped increase demand for greater accuracy and reliability, and this demand is now a major impetus in the design of future GPS spacecraft and ground control systems.  If the United States is to continue to meet these demands and grow the markets for GPS, we simply must make investments now to modernize the system.  The President's Fiscal Year 2000 balanced budget proposal includes an initiative to do just that.

Earlier I referred to the Vice President's announcement last January of a new $400 million initiative to modernize GPS to meet the needs of both civil and military users well into the next century.  If the U.S. Congress has its way, funding for the civilian portion of this GPS modernization initiative will be reduced to zero.  Nothing.  Zilch.  We won't even get started.  Not only that, but we will miss a window of opportunity that could delay GPS modernization by up to five years, maybe longer, and significantly increase the cost of civil GPS enhancements.  These delays will create new opportunities for others to meet the growing demands for greater accuracy and reliability in satellite navigation and positioning, reducing the markets for GPS-based products and services.  Hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs, billions of dollars in sales worldwide, and U.S. leadership in a critical information technology are at stake.  But so far, these arguments have not convinced the Congress to act responsibly on this matter.

Scientists and engineers and technical professionals constitute one of the largest, most valuable, yet least-heard constituencies in America.  Your work makes major contributions to our economy, to our national security, and to the health and well-being of our citizens and our environment.  Our elected representatives need to understand that investments in the future of science and technology are investments in the future of our country, and are investments that Americans are willing to make.  The polls are clear on that!

The truth is that all scientists and engineers, all researchers and educators, all entrepreneurs represent the "constituency of the future."  And all of us in this country have a duty – to ourselves, to our children, to future generations – to ensure that Congress does the right thing by enacting a strong, farsighted science and technology budget to help build a better America for the 21st century.

I am confident that this threat to science and technology budgets, and to GPS budgets in particular, can be turned around, if you and your American colleagues make your voices heard in the days ahead.  Otherwise, if such cuts are allowed to stand, we should prepare ourselves – and especially our children – for much dimmer prospects
in the quality of our daily lives.

President Clinton reflects the views of the overwhelming majority of Americans when he says, "Cutting back on research at the dawn of a new century, where research is more important than it has been for even the last fifty years, would be like cutting back our defense budget at the height of the Cold War."

The President has a point!

Thank you.  I wish you well in your discussions over the next few days on these and other issues related to GPS.


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