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ACMA Greenlights Trial For Devices Providing GPS Signals In Tunnels

The Australian Communications And Media Authority (ACMA) is set to work with emergency services to host trials of ‘repeater’ devices which can combat GPS dead zones in tunnels.

Emergency services such as ambulance, fire and rescue and the police rely on GPS for navigation and vehicle tracking but can lose dangerously lose signal when entering road tunnels.

The trials will be used to test the technology with an intent to establish a licensing arrangement for the devices. The ACMA trial will be exclusively for emergency authorities and not for personal devices.

Repeater devices have been prohibited in Australia as they can interfere with GPS signals when not operated properly.

The ACMA amended laws which prohibit the devices so that they can be allowed specifically for the purpose of trials.

The trials are slated to take place in Sydney and Melbourne and the ACMA is also considering applications from other transport authorities interested in trialling GPS repeaters in road tunnels.

Transport for NSW sought permission in August to install GPS repeaters in tunnels for emergency services, GPS units and smartphones.

“As many motorists know, GPS signals don’t work in road tunnels because they lose the line of sight to satellites. Some vehicles use other technology but GPS is the most accurate and is used by emergency services,” Transport for NSW deputy secretary for greater Sydney Elizabeth Mildwater said.

“The freight industry – one of the primary users of tunnels – also uses GPS to actively provide information on tracking and on-board communication. With the delivery of major tunnel projects across Sydney like WestConnex, NorthConnex, M6 Stage 1, Western Harbour Tunnel, and Beaches Link, it’s important we act as soon as possible.”

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