GPS Date to Rollover April 6 on Some Electronic Devices

Some compare the change to the famous “Y2K” transition at the end of the twentieth century. An information security expert said at the RSA 2019 conference in San Francisco last week, “I’m not going to be flying on April 6.”

Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers limited the number of stored digits needed to count the date, so some devices will roll back to zero on April 6, 2019.

Broadcasters seldom directly use GPS to supervise station activities. Most often, a GPS-based device might be used to indirectly correct a wandering computer clock, or as a time standard in a precise oscillator where its pulses are measured but the date may be ignored.

However, GPS is used often for time stamping video and for displaying time of day. I contacted Bill at El Segundo Electronics, ESE, about whether his ES-series clocks, used widely around broadcast stations, might have the 10-digit time problem. He replied, “The supplier for our GPS receivers assures us that there will be no problem with the WNRO (Week Number Roll Over) on April 6, 2019. Our Chief Engineer recommends that you keep the unit powered up and running over the WNRO.”

Thanks for the news tip, Bill Lipis.

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