Frequently asked questions

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What is Galileo?

Similar to the American GPS, Galileo is the European Union's Global Satellite Navigation System (GNSS) that provides radio signals for position,  navigation  and  timing purposes.   When completed,  Galileo  will  offer five services:  the  Open  Service,  the  Public  Regulated  Service, the Commercial  Service,  the  Search  and Rescue Service and provide contribution to the integrity- monitoring service.

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What are the Galileo Initial Services?

Galileo  is being deployed which  means  that the satellite  and  ground  station infrastructure  is being  built-up. Commencement of Initial Services  marks the  transition  from  a  system  in deployment  and test  phase  to one  that  is operational. Initial  Services operation will  allow all mass-market  devices  containing  a  Galileo-enabled  chipset,  such  as  smartphones  and  vehicle navigation devices, to use Galileo signals for positioning, navigation and timing.

Galileo  Initial  Services  are  the  first  step  towards  full  operational  capability.   Galileo  system deployment  will  continue  with  additional  satellite  launches  to enlarge the  constellation,  which will gradually improve the system performance and availability worldwide.   The constellation is expected to be completed by 2020.

The Initial Services offered  by Galileo will be: the Open  Service (OS), the Public  Regulated  Service (PRS) and the Search and Rescue Service (SAR).

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What is the Galileo Open Service?

The Galileo Open Service is a free mass market service for positioning, navigation and timing that can be used  by Galileo enabled chipsets in,  for  example,  smartphones or  in-car  navigation systems.

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What is the Galileo Public Regulated Service?

The  Public  Regulated Service is for government  authorised  users,  such  as  civil  protection, fire brigades, customs officers and the police. It is particularly robust and fully encrypted to provide service  continuity  for  government  users  in  national  emergencies  or  crisis  situations, such  as terrorist attacks.

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What is the Galileo Search and Rescue Service?

The  Galileo  Search and  Rescue  service  is  Europe's  contribution  to  an  international  emergency beacon locating system called "Cospas-Sarsat".  Thanks  to  Galileo’s  Search  and  Rescue Service, locating distress beacons will  substantially  improve.  For  example, after someone  activates  a distress beacon, the time to find them, lost at sea or in the mountains, will be reduced from up to three  hours to  just ten minutes.  Additionally,  the distress  beacon's  location  will  be  more accurately determined, to within 5km; an improvement on the current 10 km.

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What is the Declaration of Galileo Initial Services?

With  the Declaration  of  Galileo  Initial  Services,  the European  Union is announcing that  the Galileo satellites  and  ground  infrastructure  are ready for  use. The conditions under  which  the Galileo Initial Services will be delivered, including their expected performance (accuracy, etc) and availability, have  been published  on  the  website  of  the  European  Service  Centre found  here: www.gsc-europa.eu.

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What are the benefits of Galileo Initial Services for the end user?

Galileo Initial Services are fully interoperable with GPS, and their combined use will bring many benefits  to  the  end  user.  With  Galileo  satellites  working  in  conjunction  with  GPS,  there  will  be more  satellites  available,  meaning  more  accurate  and  reliable  positioning  for  end  users. Navigation in cities, where satellite signals can often be blocked by tall buildings, will particularly benefit from the increased positioning accuracy this will provide.

Also,  Galileo's  accurate  timing  will  contribute  to  enabling  more  resilient  synchronisation  of banking and financial transactions, telecommunication and energy distribution networks to help them operate more efficiently - an often overlooked, but essential task.

Finally, Galileo will help save lives. Galileo’s Search and Rescue service reduces the time it takes to  detect  emergency  distress  beacons  from up  to three hours to  just  ten  minutes.   As distress beacon locations will also be determined more accurately, people lost at sea or in the mountains can be rescued more quickly.

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Can Galileo-enabled devices be found on the market?

The market is ready for Galileo. In 2010 there were only three chipset manufacturers producing Galileo-ready  chips.  Today  17  companies, representing  more  than  the  95%  of  global  supply, produce Galileo-ready chips.

These include:

- Key chipset manufacturers like Broadcom, Mediatek, STM, Intel, Qualcomm and uBlox.

- Qualcomm,  the  market  leader  for  smartphone  chips  such  as  Snapdragon,  is already building Galileo into its devices, meaning that many smartphones are Galileo-ready.

- STM, a leading European chipset manufacturer in the automotive sector, has announced Galileo-ready "Teseo" chips for vehicle telematics and navigation systems.

In  September  2016,  the  Spanish  mobile  phone  manufacturer  BQ  brought  the  first  European- designed Galileo smartphone to market. Furthermore, by 2018, Galileo will be found in every new type-approved vehicle sold in Europe, enabling the eCall emergency response system. A growing list of Galileo compatible devices and chipsets that are available today can be found at www.useGalileo.eu.

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What is the socio-economic impact of Galileo?

The  benefits  of Galileo can  be  measured by  their socio-economic  impact  on  users,  society  and the environment.

Users will benefit from more reliable and accurate positioning, aiding their navigation, especially in cities and built-up areas. Features like the Galileo Search and Rescue service and integration into  the eCall system will reduce  emergency  service  response  time  in  the  case  of  distress  or accidents.

Also, Galileo's accurate  timing  will help  make synchronisation  of  banking and  financial transactions more  resilient  as  well  as those  used  in telecommunication  and  energy  distribution
networks that power the World economy.

Use  of  satellite  navigation  has  helped  drive  world  economic  growth,  particularly  in  high-tech industries, and experts predict that the global satellite navigation market will itself grow by more than 8% up until 2019. The additional resiliency provided by Galileo as the third global system, after GPS and GLONASS, is expected to enable a range of new applications and services that will benefit  from  increased  positioning  reliability  and  further  drive  economic  growth  in  Europe  and beyond.

The European  GNSS  Agency  (GSA) has  conducted additional assessments that  show significant economic and environmental benefits from Galileo and GNSS use in the decade to come; these can be found on the GSA website www.gsa.europa.eu.

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What performance can I expect from Galileo?

Measurement  of Galileo's  state  of  the  art  navigation signals shows  that their performance  is excellent.   Achievable  accuracy  depends on  a  number  of  factors,  including  the  number  of satellites and system optimisations, so while the Initial Services performance is expected to be at least  as  good  as  GPS, it will only improve as  the  system  matures towards completion by  2020 Galileo. Further  details of  the  performance  (accuracy,  etc)  and availability have  been  published on the website of the European Service Centre found here: www.gsc-europa.eu.

Galileo's other  freely  available signals, using different frequencies,  will  give professional  and more demanding users even better performance with suitably enabled receivers.

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When will Galileo Initial Services be declared?

Galileo Initial Services were declared on December 15th, 2016.

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When do you expect all Galileo services to be available?

All of Galileo’s services will be available once the satellite constellation and ground infrastructure are completed, which is expected to happen by 2020. This will allow the full Galileo performance to be achieved and with maximum availability.

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When can I use Galileo on a mobile phone?

Soon,  if  not  now!  Leading  smartphone chipset  manufacturers  like  Qualcomm,  Broadcom,  Intel and  Mediatek  all  have  Galileo  compatible  products  in  their  portfolios and the  first  Galileo- enabled smartphones have been on the market since autumn 2016; with many more to follow. It is very likely that all future smartphone and satellite navigation devices will be able to use Galileo as well as the other global satellite navigation systems.

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When can I use Galileo in my car?

From April 2018, all new type approved vehicles sold in Europe will be Galileo capable as part of a  requirement to  comply  with  the  EU’s  eCall  emergency  response  system  regulation.  Galileo- enabled navigation devices for your car will also start coming on the market in 2017.

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Where can companies get information to help them develop products and services to take advantage of Galileo signals?

The  European  GNSS  Service  Centre (GSC) is  the  place  to  go  for  all  things  related  to  developing Galileo-capable products and services. The GSC can be contacted at: www.gsc-europa.eu

How do I know whether my phone or navigation system is Galileo-enabled?

Current Galileo-enabled chipsets and smartphones are listed at: www.useGalileo.eu. This tool will be kept updated as the list continues to grow!

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How much do I have to pay for Galileo Initial Services?

The Galileo  Initial  Services will  be free  of  charge and  will  remain  so,  even  once  the  system becomes fully operational.

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Who provides the Galileo Initial Services?

While the European  Commission is ultimately  responsible  for  the Galileo  programme, it  is the European GNSS Agency (GSA) that is charged with providing the Initial Services. Under  delegation  from  the  European  Commission, the European  Space  Agency  (ESA) is responsible for deploying the system and providing technical support for operational tasks.

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Who can I contact for more information about the Galileo Initial Services?

The European GNSS Service Centre (GSC) is here to help all Galileo users. The GSC Helpdesk can be reached at https://www.gsc-europa.eu/contact-us/helpdesk

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