What is a Metropolitan Beacon System (MBS)?

NextNav’s Metropolitan Beacon System (MBS) is a network of terrestrial transmitters designed to provide resilient position, navigation and timing (PNT) services in places where traditional GPS signals are weak, unavailable, degraded, or vulnerable.  NextNav uses the brand name TerraPoiNT for its MBS service.

Metropolitan Beacon Systems are part of the global 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards for telecommunication networks.  As defined in 3GPP specification 38.305, MBS “consists of a network of ground-based transmitters, broadcasting signals only for positioning purposes…The user equipment measures received signals, optionally aided by assistance data, to calculate its location or to send measurements to the positioning server for position calculation.”

The Global Positioning System (GPS) uses a constellation of satellites to calculate the location of devices.  Unfortunately, GPS signals face significant challenges in large cities with lots of multistory buildings.  Since they have to travel all the way from space, GPS signals are too weak to reach indoor locations.  Since they can’t penetrate through buildings, GPS signals are also unreliable in urban canyons where large structures create signal shadows.

TerraPoiNT is strategically deployed on cellular towers and other structures to provide location services coverage across an entire urban area (hence the term “metropolitan”).  Since TerraPoiNT signals are much closer to the devices they are trying to locate, the signal strength is strong enough to reach indoors and into densely packed urban areas where GPS is often unavailable.

TerraPoiNT provides the same position, navigation and timing (PNT) data that GPS does, and operates with GPS-compatible waveforms, making it an ideal complement to existing geolocation technologies.  MBS has the added advantage of providing highly accurate vertical location data, allowing for 3D geolocation in areas where multistory structures are the norm.

NextNav operates its TerraPoiNT solution in forty-seven markets across the country, and is working closely with Federal government agencies to test its technology for use as a resilient layer to complement existing GPS deployments.

Learn more about TerraPoiNT, NextNav’s resilient, secure PNT solution.