Europe’s Galileo Navigation System goes Live

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Today, December 15, 2016, the European Commission, owner of the Galileo system, announced the start of Galileo Initial Service. This is the first step towards full operational capability.

Galileo is the first navigation system which is privately owned compared to the military operated counterparts GPS (USA) and GLONASS (Russia). Galileo is not intended to replace the GPS system rather it will enhance it and work together with it. Galileo promises a higher accuracy than GPS.

At the moment the system consists of 18 satellites which were launched over the last 5 years. The full system will have 24 satellites with orbital spares to prevent any interruption of service.

With the start of the initial services, users with a compatible handset can now use Galileo for navigation. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was one of the first smartphones to support Galileo. But we all know what happened with the Note 7 phones.

Most newer phones with Qualcomm chip are compatible with Galileo. It’s only a matter of software integration.

Initial Services

Galileo is now providing three service types, the availability of which will continue to be improved.

  1. The Open Service is a free mass-market service for users with enabled chipsets in, for instance, smartphones and car navigation systems. Fully interoperable with GPS, combined coverage will deliver more accurate and reliable positioning for users.
  2. Galileo’s Public Regulated Service is an encrypted, robust service for government-authorised users such as civil protection, fire brigades, and the police.
  3. The Search and Rescue Service is Europe’s contribution to the long-running Cospas–Sarsat international emergency beacon location. The time between someone locating a distress beacon when lost at sea or in the wilderness will be reduced from up to three hours to just 10 minutes, with its location determined to within 5 km, rather than the previous 10 km.
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