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GPS Makers Say 'Don't Panic' On Service Report

6/01/2009 02:00:00 AM Eastern

GPS users are not likely to experience major problems with service, despite a recent report claiming that GPS satellites are at risk from wear and tear, said suppliers.

Both Garmin and TomTom said they were not concerned about a degradation in GPS service.

Tom Murray, market development VP at TomTom, said GPS is an “excellent technology,” and, “We are not concerned about this changing and there is no reason to believe it will.”

A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that GPS service may fall to a reliability level below 95 percent and periodically dip below 80 percent over the next five years.

In addition, OnStar, which testified before a House of Representatives subcommittee earlier this month, said, “We are concerned that a recent report shows eight of the current [GPS] satellites are one component from total failure,” according to Chet Huber, OnStar president.

The GAO study was presented to Congress on May 7, at which time several experts, including Huber, testified on the topic.

In short, the study found efforts to acquire new satellites by the Air Force, which is in charge of GPS signal acquisition, have been delayed in part by technical problems.

A Garmin spokesman responded, “We firmly believe there is no reason to fear a significant or serious outage in service.”

He added, “While we do think that the various government entities need to work better together to avoid delays and cost over-runs, the situation is not as dire as has been portrayed.”

Analyst Egil Juliussen of iSuppli agreed. “I think this has been blown out of proportion and is very unlikely to have any impact. It is the GAO's job to point out potential problems and just by doing so will put enough resources so there will not be any problems,” said Juliussen.

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