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If You Have An Older Phone Its GPS Features Might Stop Working on 6 April

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If you’re using an older satnav device to navigate, then you may have to prepare to that it’s facing obsolescence after 6 April when the American Global Positioning System (GPS). What’s happening on the 6th that might brick your sat nav.

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Why?

So, GPS signals from satellites have a timestamp which is necessary when calculating one’s location. This timestamp stores the week number using ten binary digits which means the week number can have upto 1024 integer values and roughly every 20 years this number spills over from 1023 to 0 and this April it will be spilling over back to 0.

What this means is that the devices you’re using, be it a satnav or a phone (who else is still using a Galaxy S) if it’s from 2010 or before there’s a chance that you might fail to use the location features. That’s if the device you’re using is not patched to handle the rollover. The unfortunate part of all this is that this is something that you will only know after the 6th of April has passed and then your location status will serve as an indicator of whether or not your GPS device was updated to deal with the rollover.

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The US Homeland has said this will probably affect lower quality devices:

GPS devices with a poorly implemented GPS Time-to-UTC conversion algortihm may provide incorrect UTC following a week number rollover.

Additional, some GPS devices that calculate the week number from a device-specific date rather than the start of the current GPS Time Epoch may provide incorrect UTC at some other device-specific date.

Fortunately, for the devices that are currently on sale, this is not expected to be a problem. If you’re among those people who are using older phones from 2010 it might be a good time to update your device because apart from the GPS going obsolete it might also be a security risk among other things.


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