Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS)

What is SBAS?

SBAS is an established technology that can augment standalone Global Navigation Satellite Systems such as GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and Beidou in a number of areas including accuracy, integrity and availability. It works by collecting raw positioning data from Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS) in the region, computing error corrections and disseminating these corrections to users from a geostationary communications satellite via an uplink ground station. Critically for aviation purposes, the SBAS signals also provide a continuous measure of system integrity, allowing use for vertical guidance during aerodrome approaches.

Alongside the strong benefits to the Aviation sector, the SBAS technology presents significant opportunities for maritime and terrestrial use. The standard SBAS L1 service will be made available through a wide array of commercially available devices; the specification sheet of all GNSS devices will mention any SBAS compatibility. There are many L1 SBAS capable receivers already in use across Australia and New Zealand, these devices can expect to see improved positioning accuracy and precision, once configured to recognise the new SBAS Pseudo-Random-Noise identifier for the operational service (during the Test-phase, the PRN is 122).

The Australia and New Zealand Test-bed was different to established SBAS systems in a few key ways. The currently operational SBAS systems elsewhere provide only one service, which is a single-frequency L1 augmentation service to GPS. The Test-bed included three services:

  • L1 SBAS
  • Dual Frequency Multi Constellation (DFMC) SBAS
  • Precise Point Positioning (PPP)

DFMC is a second generation SBAS based on L1 and L5 frequencies and both GPS and Galileo constellations. This is a new service, the standard for which was released in February 2019, after the completion of the Test-bed. DFMC has shown potential to improve upon L1 SBAS to further improve, precision, and integrity in a range of use cases and environments.

PPP is a different kind of service that allows for accuracies around the decimetre level, with the additional requirement of a 30-40 minute convergence time.

For further information about SBAS, consider exploring the following links:


SBAS Test-bed

Positioning data is now fundamental to a range of applications and businesses worldwide. It increases our productivity, secures our safety and propels innovation. It enables location on smartphones, provides safety-of-life navigation on aircraft, increases water efficiency on farms, helps to locate vessels in distress at sea, and supports intelligent navigation tools and advanced transportation management systems that connect cities and regions. While highly accurate positioning technologies are already available, they are often expensive and only available in specific areas and to niche markets.

Between 2017-2019 a series of trials were undertaken as part of the Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) Test-bed.  SBAS augments Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals to deliver a satellite positioning capability across a region with accuracy ranging from sub-metre to decimetre. An SBAS will overcome the current gaps in mobile and radio communications to ensure that accurate positioning information can be received anytime and anywhere across Australia, New Zealand and their maritime zones. It will also support the aviation, maritime and road transport sectors which have a requirement for high-integrity positioning-guaranteed performance with metre level accuracy.

On behalf of the Australian and New Zealand Governments and our partners Geoscience Australia and Land Information New Zealand, FrontierSI was responsible for managing and completing user testing with over 100 organisations, through 27 projects, across 10 industry sectors including aviation, agriculture, consumer, construction, maritime, rail, resources, road, spatial and utilities.

Through the contributions of our partner organisations, The SBAS Test-bed Demonstrator Trial, which ran between 2017 and 2019, has laid out the case for delivering an operational SBAS in the coming years that will provide quick and reliable access to positioning and timing information anytime and anywhere across Australia and New Zealand.

Three Reports have been released following the conclusion of the SBAS Test-bed Demonstrator Trial:

  1. SBAS Test-bed Demonstrator Trial Economic Benefits Report: which provides an assessment of the economic benefits of Satellite-Based Augmented Systems across Australia and New Zealand.
  2. SBAS Test-bed Project Report: provides detail on the technology, signals, completed projects, equipment and environment tested as well as the main challenges, findings and recommendations.
  3. SBAS Test-bed Technical Report: details performance results from a testing campaign of the SBAS services by FrontierSI.

Following the SBAS Test-bed Demonstrator Trial, Geoscience Australia produced a suite of informative videos on the Positioning Australia Program, and how the SBAS applies specifically to the agriculture, road, and construction industries. You can view three of these videos below, or access more on the Geoscience YouTube channel:


History of the SBAS Programme

Australia first investigated the merits of SBAS in 2011, and New Zealand in 2014. Both studies had a focus solely on aviation use. By 2016, another concerted Australian effort was made, this time covering multiple industry sectors, representing a much wider segment of the economy. As a result, a two year SBAS test-bed was funded with the goal of demonstrating the economic benefits that SBAS would bring to both countries.

In early 2017 the governments of Australia and New Zealand agreed to fund a two year test-bed to evaluate the benefits of an SBAS technology across a number of industry sectors in the region. The highly-successful test-bed ran from 2017 to 2019 and built the case for the governments of both countries to fund an operational SBAS.

FrontierSI’s role

During the Test-bed, FrontierSI was tasked with managing 27 projects testing SBAS technology across 10 industry sectors in Australia and New Zealand including aviation, road, rail, maritime, agriculture, construction, consumer, resources, utilities, and spatial. Performance baselines from the demonstrator projects formed an input for an economic benefits study, which forecast the expected financial impact of the SBAS on each industry sector as well as the economies of both countries. This study also highlighted further applications of the SBAS which may be realised in the coming years, as well as areas that will require further research and development.

Following the completion of the trials, FrontierSI has refocussed on promoting industry uptake of the SBAS for organisations and individuals in both Australia and New Zealand by providing expertise, test equipment, and technical support to help users get started. SBAS Technical Manager Dr. Eldar Rubinov and SBAS Engineer Chris Marshall (BSc, MEng) are available for any inquiries related to the SBAS and surrounding technologies.

If you or your organisation would like to learn more about how to leverage the latest GNSS infrastructure for Australia and New Zealand, get in touch with the SBAS team at FrontierSI using the ‘Contact’ tab at the top of this page. We are available to provide information sessions, hands-on training, equipment recommendations, and technology demonstrations to suit the use case and budget of any user group.

If your organisation has an interest in running an SBAS demonstration project, FrontierSI, Geoscience Australia and Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) may be able to help facilitate a demonstrator trial for your use case. Get in touch with the SBAS team to discuss your positioning needs, and the ways in which SBAS may be a benefit.


SBAS-Compatible Equipment

The list below is not complete and that there may be SBAS-compatible equipment that is not mentioned. We encourage you to check with your equipment manufacturer whether your device is SBAS-compatible, and whether a firmware for PRN 122 has been released.

Category Name Description
1 Consumer < $100 – consumer grade chips, mobile phones, IoT, trackers, etc.
2 Mid-range $100-$3,000 – GIS, mapping, forestry, robotics etc.
3 Professional > $3,000 – geodetic, surveying, high-precision applications
GNSS Equipment Suppliers
Equipment Equipment Category SBAS Compatibility
EOS Mid-range, Professional L1
ComNav Mid-range L1
Hemisphere Mid-range, Professional L1
JAVAD Professional L1
Juniper Systems Mid-range L1
Novatel Professional L1
NavSim Professional L1
Septentrio Professional L1, DFMC
SkyTraq Consumer L1
uBlox Consumer, Mid-range L1