EU Parliament approves €7 billion to complete GPS projects

Funds will help to develop Galileo-enabled chipsets and receivers

By Jennifer Baker, IDG News Service |  Unified Communications

The European Parliament on Wednesday approved €7 billion (US$9.5 billion) in funding to further develop and complete Europe's satellite navigation programs, including the Galileo and EGNOS projects.

The funding will cover the projects from 2014 to 2020 and will be spent on completion of the satellite navigation infrastructure as well as the development of fundamental components such as Galileo-enabled chipsets or receivers in smartphones.

"The overall economic impact of Galileo and EGNOS is estimated to be around €90 billion over the next 20 years," said Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani. "In addition to the opening up of new business opportunities, everyday users will be able to enjoy increasingly accurate satellite navigation services with every new satellite launch."

Galileo, the fully E.U.-owned autonomous satellite navigation system under civil control, will provide first services from the end of 2014 and when fully operational (before 2020) will provide a freely accessible service for positioning, navigation and timing, using the dual-frequency Galileo Signal in Space.

Positioning and timing signals provided by satellite navigation systems are used in many critical areas including electronic trading, mobile phone networks, power grid synchronization, air traffic management and, of course, in-car navigation.

EGNOS (the European Satellite Based Augmentation System) has been fully operational since 2011. It works to increase the accuracy of GPS positioning, making it suitable for safety-critical applications such as aircraft navigation. EGNOS improves the positioning accuracy of GPS to within three meters. In comparison, people using a GPS receiver without EGNOS can only be sure of their position to within 17 meters.

Responsibilities for the completion and operation of the satellite navigation programs will be divided. The European Commission will remain responsible for the progress of the programs and their overall supervision. The Prague-based European GNSS Agency will gradually take charge of EGNOS and Galileo's operational management and the deployment of Galileo as well as the design and development of next generation systems will be entrusted to the European Space Agency.

The Council of the E.U. is expected to approve the regulation at a ministerial meeting next month. It will then enter into force on Jan. 1.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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