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European Satellite Navigation System



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Europe's contribution to GNSS

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The programme

|User needs and service definition

|GALILEO services

|System architecture

|Programme phases

User needs and service definition

Work has been carried out for several years on defining the services and the frequency plan. The first version of the technical document defining GALILEO's mission (High Level mission Definition - HLD) and, hence, also the range of associated services, was produced at the beginning of 2001. It has been widely distributed and discussed, by both user groups and Member States. The second version of the HLD, widely circulated in April 2001, was the result of this consultation.

Following the Council Decision of 26 March 2002, and developments in the technological concepts resulting from work carried out during the definition phase, a new version was produced (cf. summary) taking into account fresh consultations of large user groups for whom a number of forums were specifically organised in May and June 2002.

The consolidated version of the HLD should help define:

  • the list of services which GALILEO should offer,

  • service performance (quality),

  • technical characteristics of services.

GALILEO will offer several service levels, from open access to restricted access of various levels:

  • An open, free basic service, mainly involving applications for the general public and services of general interest. This services is comparable to that provided by civil GPS, which is free of cost for these applications, but with improved quality and reliability.

  • A commercial service facilitating the development of professional applications and offering enhanced performance compared with the basic service, particularly in terms of service guarantee.

  • A "vital" service (Safety of Life Service) of a very high quality and integrity for safety-critical applications, such as aviation and shipping.

  • A search and rescue service that will greatly improve existing relief and rescue services.

  • A public regulated service (PRS), encrypted and resistant to jamming and interference, reserved principally for the public authorities responsible for civil protection, national security and law enforcement which demand a high level of continuity. It will enable secured applications to be developed in the European Union, and could prove in particular to be an important tool in improving the instruments used by the European Union to combat illegal exports and illegal immigration.

The real needs of future GALILEO users need to be identified before the characteristics of the package of services can be decided. Studies have already been carried out in various standardisation institutes and international bodies, such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the International Maritime Organisation, etc.

The range of GALILEO services is designed to meet practical objectives and expectations, from improving the coverage of open-access services in urban environments (to cover 95% of urban districts compared with the 50% currently covered by GPS alone) which will benefit the 160 million private vehicles in Europe, or enabling the use of satellite navigation applications "indoors", in buildings and even in tunnels, or indeed mobile telephone services based on identifying the caller's position.

The guarantees regarding the specific basic parameters of the services provided (precision, availability, etc.) will be of benefit not only to the insurance sector (tracking stolen vehicles, premiums adjusted to the actual movements of the vehicles, monitoring movements of goods, etc.), but also in high-tech sectors such as oil prospecting, precision crop management, freight management, etc.

The provision of an integrity message to determine the reliability of the satellite signal is also essential in the many sectors where a legal guarantee is required (service industries) and in cases where human life is at risk. For example, in some phases of flight, civil aviation demands that there be a delay of no more than 6 seconds between the detection of abnormal operation and the user's receiving an appropriate warning signal.

The existence of a very low speed communication channel (in the order of 500 bits per second) can also be used to transmit commercial information from service centres to users. The detailed content of such information (distribution of encryption decoding keys, traffic information, routing of different users, etc.) may be determined by the future operator according to their business plan.

All services are directly accessible worldwide. However, local bodies may have to make some adaptations to specific environments or user communities (tunnels, airports, ports, etc.). In addition, the satellite infrastructure can be complemented by regional components, particularly for producing the integrity message.

It is worth emphasising that the services offered by GALILEO will cover the whole planet, particularly areas at a geographical disadvantage and the outermost regions of the European Union.

last update: 10-02-2009