New Zealand and Australia are working together to develop a regional satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) to improve the accuracy of GPS.

GPS usually provides positioning information accurate to about 5-10 metres. This new system will improve the accuracy to less than a metre, and in some devices to 10 centimetres.

The SBAS will be called the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network, or SouthPAN for short. 

The procurement phase for SouthPAN is currently underway and initial SouthPAN services are expected in 2022.

About SBAS

SBAS uses satellites as well as ground-based infrastructure to improve the accuracy, integrity and availability of basic Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals, like GPS.

The benefits of SBAS

SBAS will make positioning data, like GPS, even more accurate than it is now. It will allow us to identify any errors in these systems, so they can be adjusted to be more precise for New Zealand.

This will make them more useful for intelligent transport systems like driverless cars, unmanned aerial deliveries, as well as precision agriculture and smart phone-based services.

SBAS can be used for air navigation. It can help aircraft to land in poor weather at regional airports and heliports without the need for expensive ground-based landing aids. There are also potential longer-term benefits for road safety and congestion management.

SBAS in operation   

SBAS is already in use in the United States, Europe, Japan and India. While New Zealand and Australia currently have good access to GPS, we do not currently have access to SBAS.

Privacy considerations

SBAS does not require information about users to operate. It will simply provide more accurate positioning for users of the system, similar to systems like GPS.

Australasian SBAS Trial

The Australasian SBAS Test-bed Demonstrator Trial was a partnership between LINZ and GA. 

The 18-month trial took place from January 2017 until January 2019 and involved 27 demonstration projects across ten sectors in both countries. 

The SBAS Test-bed Demonstrator Trial Economic Benefits Report completed following the trial identified economic benefits to the value of AU$7.4b to the region over 30 years, with AU$1.4 billion accruing to New Zealand.

The trial tested three SBAS signals and found they all provide benefits to both countries.

The SBAS Test-bed trial also showed general benefits including; improved GPS accuracy (from 5-10 metres to one metre or less), improved signal integrity, and reduced commercial costs and infrastructure investment.

The New Zealand Government provided AU$2 million funding for the trial on top of AU$12 million from the Australian Government. The report, as well as further information, is available on the FrontierSI website

How the SBAS trial worked

The SBAS provided corrections to existing satellite navigation systems like GPS.  This was achieved by analysing data received at LINZ and Geoscience Australia’s existing networks of GNSS tracking stations. 

The data was transmitted to Geoscience Australia’s processing facility where the SBAS corrections were calculated and sent to the satellite up-link station and onto the satellite. The geostationary satellite then broadcast the corrections over the Australasian region.

The SBAS test-bed tested three technologies:

  1. Single frequency service SBAS, which is the equivalent of the systems used in the US (the Wide Area Augmentation System or WAAS), and Europe, (the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service or EGNOS). This technology will improve the accuracy of GPS from 5 metre accuracy to better than 1 metre accuracy.
  2. Dual frequency-Multiple Constellation SBAS. This is known as next generation SBAS and used two civil signals and two constellations (GPS and Galileo). This will provide significant performance improvements over single frequency SBAS, particularly in regions with dynamic ionosphere.
  3. Precise Point Positioning (PPP). PPP is a method that provides highly accurately position solutions with accuracy better than 10 centimetres.

Management of the trial

The trial was a collaborative project funded by the New Zealand and Australian governments. FrontierSI was engaged to manage and deliver the project with oversight from LINZ and GA.  New Zealand government funding was provided through LINZ, New Zealand Transport Agency, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Transport. 

SBAS test transmission hiatus

The SBAS test transmission was discontinued on 28 July 2020. We are working with Geosicence Australia to procure and implement a fully-certified SBAS capability for both New Zealand and Australia. Geoscience Australia is leading the procurement activity for the benefit of both countries.

Following the procurement process, it is anticipated that the preferred tenderer may be in a position to resume a test transmission in 2022. This test transmission will be refined and developed to become a fully-certified and operational SBAS for the Australasian region.

Precise positioning alternative

If you require precise positioning information while the test transmission is unavailable, LINZ, through the PositioNZ network, also provides access to accurate and reliable data streams from a national network of Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS). 

These data streams can be used by compatible equipment for single base real-time kinematic (RTK) positioning.  Access the PositioNZ data and services

Last Updated: 6 August 2021