GPS week number rollover
The GPS week number rollover is a phenomenon that happens every 1024 weeks, which is about 19.6 years. The Global Positioning System (GPS) broadcasts a date, including a week number counter that is stored in only ten binary digits, whose range is therefore 0–1023. After 1023, an integer overflow causes the internal value to roll over, changing to zero again. Software that is not coded to anticipate the rollover to zero may stop working or could be moved back in time by 20 or 40 years. GPS is not only used for positioning, but also for accurate time. Time is used to accurately synchronize payment operations, broadcasters, and mobile operators.
The first rollover took place midnight (UTC) August 21 to 22, 1999.
NavCen issued an advisory prior to the rollover stating that some devices would not tolerate the rollover. Because of the relatively limited use of GPS during the 1999 rollover, disruption was minor.
The second rollover occurred on the night of April 6 to 7, 2019, when GPS Week 2047, represented as 1023 in the counter, advanced and rolled over to 0 within the counter. The United States Department of Homeland Security, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and others issued a warning about this event.
Products known to have been affected by the 2019 rollover include Honeywell's flight management and navigation software that caused delays for a KLM flight and cancellations for numerous flights in China because the technicians failed to patch the software.
Furthermore, the New York City Wireless Network (NYCWiN) crashed. (This is NYC's private municipal services Wi-Fi network not for public use; the public free Wi-Fi service is known as LinkNYC and apparently was not affected.)
Other products that were affected by the rollover include cellphones that were sold in 2013 or earlier, certain types of older Vaisala radiosonde groundstations, suspending launches at some stations for up to two weeks, NOAA's weather buoys, many scientific instruments, and consumer GPS navigation devices.
Prior to return to normal standard time from daylight saving time during the morning of November 3, 2019, Apple issued a warning to owners of iPhone and iPad devices sold before 2012 to update or risk losing Internet connectivity.
Some Furuno GPS models had an internal rollover on January 2, 2022. If the equipment was not updated with the latest software version, the equipment's date will no longer be displayed correctly.
Honda and Acura cars manufactured between 2004 and 2012 containing GPS navigation systems incorrectly displayed the year 2022 as 2002. This problem was due to an overflow on the GPS epoch. Honda confirmed that the issue will resolve itself in August 2022.
The third rollover will occur between November 20 and 21, 2038.
The above rollovers are due to a ten-bit week number; the more recent CNAV protocol, successor to the original NAV protocol, uses thirteen-bit week numbers, which amounts to a 157-year cycle; therefore, using the same epoch of 1980, the first rollover won't be until 2137.
|Event||Occurrence||Number of effects|
|1st rollover||August 21, 1999||1|
|2nd rollover||April 6, 2019||7|
|3rd rollover||November 20, 2038||0|
|4th rollover||February 14, 2137||0|
- Time formatting and storage bugs
- Structure of the time-encoding components of GPS signals, NAV and CNAV versions
- "Již příští měsíc nastane rollover: Přestane fungovat celosvětově systém GPS?". techfocus.cz (in Czech). Retrieved March 14, 2019.
- "Advisory for the August 1999 GPS Week Rollover". www.navcen.uscg.gov. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
- "The April 2019 Global Positioning System (GPS) Week Number Rollover". Energy.gov. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
- Čížek, Jakub. "Blíží se GPS Week Number Rollover Event. Staré přijímače mohou přestat fungovat". VTM.cz (in Czech). Retrieved March 14, 2019.
- Gallagher, Sean (April 9, 2019). "Somebody forgot to upgrade: Flights delayed, cancelled by GPS rollover". Ars Technica.
- "NYC Wireless Network". NYC Connected Vehicle Project. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
- Divis, Dee Ann (October 17, 2019). "GPS Rollover Hamstrings New York City Wireless Network and a Handful of Other Systems". InsideGNSS.
- Shekar, Shruti (April 9, 2019). "Telus contacting customers in advance about GPS rollover that may affect some customers". Mobile Syrup.
- Cozzens, Tracy (April 9, 2019). "GPS Week Rollover grounds Aussie weather balloons, Boeing planes". GPS World.
- "Effects of GPS Rollover on Weather Buoys and C-MAN Stations" (PDF). NOAA.
- Butler, Declan (April 3, 2019). "GPS glitch threatens thousands of scientific instruments". Nature. doi:10.1038/d41586-019-01048-2. PMID 32238891. S2CID 132616195.
- Vincent, James (March 8, 2019). "Older GPS devices are facing their own mini Y2K bug next month". The Verge. Retrieved August 17, 2019.
- "Apple Warns Some iPhone Users: Update your phone or lose internet". WHO-TV. Des Moines, Iowa. October 31, 2019. Retrieved October 31, 2019 – via CNN.
- "Furuno GPS recievers [sic] affected by GPS rollover 02.01.2022". Furuno Norge AS. January 5, 2022. Retrieved March 31, 2022.
- "Honda Clocks Are Stuck 20 Years In The Past And There Isn't A Fix". Jalopnik. Retrieved January 8, 2022.
- "Shoddy coding has some Honda cars stuck in the year 2002". Engadget. Retrieved January 8, 2022.
- "GPS.gov: GPS Week Number Rollover - April 2019". www.gps.gov. Retrieved September 3, 2020.