Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN)

The Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) is a joint initiative of the Australian and New Zealand Governments that provides Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) services for Australia and New Zealand. Geoscience Australia as the Australian Government lead agency, is working in collaboration with Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand on the development, deployment, and operation of SouthPAN, the first SBAS in the Southern Hemisphere.

SouthPAN is a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) comprised of reference stations, telecommunications infrastructure, computing centres, signal generators, and satellites that provide improved positioning and navigation services in Australia, New Zealand, and its maritime region.

Precise positioning from SouthPAN offers accuracy at as little as 10 centimetres: a significant improvement on previous accuracy of 5 to 10 metres. SouthPAN provides augmented and corrected satellite navigation signals directly from the satellite rather than through a mobile phone. This allows 10 centimetre level accuracy to be available everywhere, overcoming gaps in mobile, internet and radio communications. For example, this provides improved accuracy in our regional and remote areas, as well as in our maritime zones.

Between 2017 and 2019, SouthPAN’s precise positioning technology, known as the Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) test-bed project ran to assess the economic, social and environmental benefits of improved positioning technology through industry case study projects.

In February 2020, Geoscience Australia and Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand officially began their joint collaboration on SouthPAN under the Australia New Zealand Science, Research and Innovation Cooperation Agreement (ANZSRICA).

Following a comprehensive procurement process in September 2022, Geoscience Australia entered into a contract with Lockheed Martin Australia to deliver an ongoing SouthPAN service to Australia and New Zealand.

The system is designed to meet global performance requirements under Australia and New Zealand’s unique service area and space weather conditions.

On 26 September, SouthPAN early Open Services became live, with a safety-of-life certified SouthPAN services planned in 2028.

Geoscience Australia is currently seeking expressions of interest (EOI) for SouthPAN ground station site hosts.

How to get access

Many positioning-capable consumer devices already have SouthPAN-ready receivers. Geoscience Australia through FrontierSI provides technical expertise, liaison with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), universities, industry and government to ensure users can benefit from SouthPAN’s precise positioning.

GNSS equipment manufacturers, applications developers, and end-users should use the SouthPAN Service Definition Document and Disclaimer to implement the early Open Services from SouthPAN on their devices.

Additional information can be found in the SouthPAN Open Services factsheet for end-users.

You are able to stay up to date with our latest announcements by subscribing to Positioning News.

Benefits of SouthPAN

SouthPAN’s Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) test-bed project assessed the economic, social and environmental benefits of improved positioning technology through 27 demonstrator user case study projects across ten different industry sectors. This included projects across agriculture, aviation, construction, consumer, resources, road, rail, maritime, mining and utilities. You can view how the SouthPAN user case study test-bed projects will make an impact to Australian society and industry. Following the test-bed, EY produced an independent economic benefits analysis of the program. This analysis found that accurate and reliable positioning from SouthPAN has an expected value of $7.6 billion over 30 years for Australia and New Zealand, based on the tested applications of the program.

About SouthPAN

The Australian Government has contributed $1.4 billion towards the SouthPAN project over the next 20 years. The purpose of the program is to deliver a national capability that accelerates the adoption and development of location-based technology and applications.

SouthPAN sees Australia and New Zealand join countries such as the United States, Europe, Russia, India and Japan, which have all invested in capabilities that deliver satellite-based corrections via an SBAS. It also supports the aviation, maritime and road transport sectors in meeting requirements for high-integrity positioning-guaranteed performance with sub-metre level accuracy.

How it works

SouthPAN uses a number of distributed ground stations to monitor signals broadcast by Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) satellites, and compares each station’s known location with position data from the satellites.

The GNSS signal data and measurement information is sent to correction processing facilities. The facilities aggregate the data from all ground stations, produce error corrections and status information about the GNSS satellites, and format the data in a standardised series of messages. These messages are sent to an uplink station, which transmits data to a satellite in geostationary earth orbit. The data is broadcast to all precise positioning users, who combine SouthPAN’s data with their own observations of GNSS satellites.

SouthPAN briefing

On 16 November 2022, Simon Reynolds, Engineering Manager for the SouthPAN project provided a SouthPAN briefing. You are able to watch the recording of the briefing below. Should you have any questions after viewing the video, you are able to submit your questions to clientservices@ga.gov.au.

Satellite navigation and SouthPAN