GLONASS and PNT in Russia
Law, Regulation, and Outlook
The Russian Federation has a large body of laws, rules, and regulations dealing with positioning, navigation, and timing in general and GLONASS in particular. This column provides an overview of the associated Russian legal environment, authored by a leader of PNT regulatory framework development at the Roscosmos Central Scientific Research Institute of Machine Building.
The legal and regulatory framework of the Russian Federation covers not only the GLONASS system, but the country’s overall positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) system as well.
The term PNT is a synonym for navigation activities as defined in the Federal Law on Navigation Activities. The PNT system in the Russian Federation is defined as the combination of administrative and technical means that provide spatial and time data to all user groups, with GLONASS as a key element.
Figure 1 (see inset photo, above right, for all figures) shows a basic scheme of the Russian PNT system. It consists of four main elements:
Major PNT Stakeholders in the Russian Federation
The stakeholders include the president, the government, several federal executive authorities (FEAs), PNT system designer and user equipment manufacturers, PNT-based applications and service providers, and the users.
The figure provides only a general overview of the governance structures. Full involvement of a certain stakeholder in a certain lifecycle aspect is shown by blue circles, light blue is used where the involvement is partial, and a cross is used in case of no involvement.
Legal and Regulatory Framework
The legal framework in Russia deals with subject-to-subject relationships and the regulatory framework, subject-to-object relationships. In simplified terms, “subject” means individuals or communities of any kind, and “object” means physical things such as technical equipment and systems. However, titles of laws or regulations do not always properly reflect this; so, there are legal acts with substantial regulatory (technical) elements, and vice versa.
Figure 3 provides a general overview on the legal (upper left) and regulatory (lower) framework.
The legal framework includes relevant international law, all levels of federal law (including residential and governmental decrees and directives, as well as FEA bylaws and acts of regional authorities, down to municipal ordinances.
The regulatory framework mainly deals with the GLONASS system and its functional parts. Various sets of acts define navigation satellites’ subsystems, operational control subsystems, differential subsystems, user equipment, navigation and information systems, geodetic and metrological support, and data provision.
International legal instruments to which Russia is party are at the highest level. These can be divided into the more than 40 instruments that involve GLONASS directly and those involving it indirectly, such as World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements. The second is the federal level and includes laws and bylaws. Presidential and governmental decrees and directives, as well as FEA acts, belong to this category.
The third level encompasses acts on regional level, again including laws and bylaws. This level is mainly focused on road transport monitoring and infrastructure, especially for governmental users. Finally, there is the level of municipal bylaws.
Of course, a broad range of strategic or programmatic documents also exist, such as development programs, strategies, or concepts issued by various executive authorities. These do not form part of the legal and regulatory framework although they may strongly determine its further development. Frequently, they also contain so-called “rules and principles” of a regulatory nature. Around 80 such relevant strategic or planning documents deal with PNT. PNT-related legal and regulatory instruments exist on all of the previously described levels and include instruments of all types. In most cases — about 60 percent — these cover PNT along with other issues.
Those fully devoted to PNT exist mainly on the regional or municipal levels; less than 20 percent are found on the federal level. As GLONASS and other PNT systems and services are mainly used in the transport sector, the most active stakeholder is the Ministry of Transport, which has responsibility for around 9 percent of all relevant instruments.
The most important legal instruments affecting the use and operation of GLONASS or PNT in general include the following:
A number of sets of acts define the GLONASS system, including terms and definitions; regulatory documents for GNSS special uses; agencies’ regulatory documents on special uses, and documents defining timing.
In addition, acts define the two main components of GLONASS: the Operational Control Subsystem (interface control documents or ICDs and technical requirements) and the Navigation Satellites Subsystem (ICD, performance standards and technical requirements).
Other elements of the Russian PNT system are also defined by sets of regulatory acts.
The first part concerns sets of acts generally relating to differential GLONASS subsystems. The five sets include terms and definitions, classification, general technical requirements, test methods and results, and regulatory documents on subsystem types. Further set of acts address the various types of differential subsystems: wide area, local, and regional.
The second part defines the user equipment and includes eight sets of acts. The third part has six sets on navigation and information system and the fourth part has six sets on geodesy. The fifth and last part concerns metrology with two sets of acts.
Generally, all the aforementioned sets of acts fully cover all needs of the various PNT users. However, two groups of problems have been identified in the legal and regulatory framework and are now being addressed by relevant stakeholders.
Collisions in the Legal and Regulatory Framework
National level issues include the following:
On the international level, the Russian Federation remains committed to provide for all international users free and non-discriminatory access to the GLONASS open signals, without intentional system degradation. The Russian Federal Space Agency acts as coordinator at this level and promotes international cooperation.
In order to support GLONASS use, federal authorities and organizations within their jurisdiction are mandated to use GLONASS- and GLONASS/GPS-based user equipment. For regional and local authorities, use of GLONASS- and GLONASS/GPS-based user equipment is recommended but not mandatory. Such measures promoting the use of the specified GNSS systems are not without criticism, especially with regard to market- access rules under the WTO agreements. The matter of market access is subject to exchanges within the International Committee on GNSS (ICG) Providers Forum.
One key element could be a future federal law currently entitled the “Navigation Code.” Such a code would cover all different PNT elements and activities.
Under the Russian legal system, a code is part of federal law. However, compared to other federal laws, a code is designed to have a long continuity, consolidated nature, considerable volume, and complicated structure Currently, the navigation code is widely discussed within the legal, administrative and scientific communities in the Russian Federation. If adopted, it would become the basis for a more harmonized legal and regulatory framework in the Russian Federation.
In addition, a roadmap for the further development of the PNT legal and regulatory framework is currently under preparation. It will include three main documents:
These documents are mainly aiming to support the development and adoption procedures for the Navigation Code.
Bolkunov, A., “GLONASS and GNSS Performance Standards: Status and Plans,” Tenth Meeting of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems. Working Group A: Systems, Signals and Services. Boulder, Colorado, United States, November 3–5, 2015, pp. 1-11
Bolkunov, A., “GLONASS/PNT Sustainment and Development Legal and Regulatory Framework: Status and Plans,” Munich Satellite Navigation Summit 2015: Session 5. Legal Issues of GNSS Market Development. Munich, Germany, March 24–26, 2015, pp. 1–9
International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems: The Way Forward. United Nations, Office for Outer Space Affairs, 2016
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