Europe's Galileo GPS System

The current US-owned GPS system uses a network of 24 satellites originally deployed for military purposes. When public GPS services originally took hold, they actually were “dumbed down” by the system so that the military would still have access to higher precision location data than the public (and any enemies). President Clinton ordered the switch thrown so that the public could access the same level of precision as the military (+-5 meters), and consumer and enterprise GPS have since taken off. However, all is not well. Businesses and consumers around the world have grown to depend on the US GPS system, but have no guarantee of service – the US government can disable civilian access instantly if they feel it serves national security. There is NO Service Level Commitment. European governments don’t like uncertainty about whether the location system will function, so they are planning a 30-satellite constellation that would offer higher levels of precision, and would be primarily a commercial GPS system which would be more attractive to EU military, and global businesses who want guaranteed access to location data. On Friday, the European Commission received five bids to build and operate the 3.4B Euro Galileo system. While the American government contends that it is redundant and not necessary, the EU doesn’t wish to be dependent on national security decisions of the US military; furthermore, they think the Galileo project will result in an estimated 140,000 jobs. My take, (acknowledging that there probably is probably a mountain of top secret externalities) is that two systems are indeed redundant, and that the world shouldn’t waste resources this way. The US should offer guaranteed service from the GPS system (anyone would have precise location data with Galileo anyway) and charge the EU a portion of their 3.4B Euros for that Service Level Agreement.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...