Your GPS Devices May Stop Working On April 6 If You Don’t Or Can’t Update Firmware

Zorro shares a report from The Register: Older satnavs and such devices won’t be able to use America’s Global Positioning System properly after April 6 unless they’ve been suitably updated or designed to handle a looming epoch rollover. GPS signals from satellites include a timestamp, needed in part to calculate one’s location, that stores the week number using ten binary bits. That means the week number can have 210 or 1,024 integer values, counting from zero to 1,023 in this case. Every 1,024 weeks, or roughly every 20 years, the counter rolls over from 1,023 to zero. The first Saturday in April will mark the end of the 1,024th week, after which the counter will spill over from 1,023 to zero. The last time the week number overflowed like this was in 1999, nearly two decades on from the first epoch in January 1980. You can see where this is going. If devices in use today are not designed or patched to handle this latest rollover, they will revert to an earlier year after that 1,024th week in April, causing attempts to calculate position to potentially fail. System and navigation data could even be corrupted, we’re warned. U.S. Homeland Security explained the issue in a write-up this week. also notes that the new CNAV and MNAV message formats will use a 13-bit week number, so this issue shouldn’t happen again anytime soon. The site recommend users consult the manufacturer of their equipment to make sure they have the proper updates in place.

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