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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 1, 2000
                           President Clinton:
         Improving the Civilian Global Positioning System (GPS)
                              May 1, 2000

"The decision to discontinue Selective Availability is the latest measure in an ongoing effort to make GPS more responsive to civil and commercial users worldwide. --This increase in accuracy will allow new GPS applications to emerge and continue to enhance the lives of people around the world."

                                              President Bill Clinton
                                              May 1, 2000

As part of his on going effort to bring the benefits of government investments in science and technology to the civilian and commercial sectors, President Clinton ordered that the intentional degrading of the civilian Global Positioning System (GPS) signal be discontinued at midnight tonight. Without any additional costs to users or the government, the President's actions will bring tangible benefits to millions of individuals and business around the world that use GPS. The increased performance is also expected to accelerate its acceptance and use by businesses, governments, and private individuals in the U.S. around the world that will enjoy increases in productivity, efficiency, safety, scientific knowledge and quality of life.

GPS IS A CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY FOR INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES AROUND THE GLOBE. GPS is a dual-use system, providing highly accurate positioning and timing data for both military and civilian users. There are more than 4 million GPS users world wide, and the market for GPS applications is expected to double in the next three years, from $8 billion to over $16 billion. Some of these applications include: air, road, rail, and marine navigation, precision agriculture and mining, oil exploration, environmental research and management, telecommunications, electronic data transfer, construction, recreation and emergency response.

GPS IS THE GLOBAL STANDARD. GPS has always been the dominant standard satellite navigation system thanks to the U.S. policy of making both the signal and the receiver design specification available to the public completely free of charge.

NEW TECHNOLOGIES ENHANCE AMERICA'S NATIONAL SECURITY. The U.S. previously employed a technique called Selective Availability (SA) to globally degrade the civilian GPS signal. New technologies demonstrated by the military enable the U.S. to degrade the GPS signal on a regional basis. GPS users worldwide would not be affected by regional, security-motivated, GPS degradations, and businesses reliant on GPS could continue to operate at peak efficiency.

GPS IMPROVED SIGNAL WILL BRING INSTANT BENEFITS TO MILLIONS OF GPS USERS. It's rare that someone can press a button and make something you already own worth more, but that's exactly what's happening today. As of midnight tonight, all the people who've bought GPS receivers for boats, cars, or recreation will find that they are ten times more accurate.

The technology that makes this extraordinary technology possible grows directly from our past research investments in basic physics, mathematics, and engineering supported from NSF, DARPA, NIST and other Federal agencies over a period of decades. GPS works because of super reliable atomic clocks -- no mechanical device could come close. These clocks resulted from Nobel-prize winning physics, and creative engineering that managed to package devices which once filled large physics laboratories into a compact, reliable, space-worthy device. The improved, non-degraded signal will increase civilian accuracy by an order of magnitude, and have immediate implications in areas such as:

Additional information about GPS and the Selective Availability decision is available online at the Interagency GPS Executive Board web site: