[Loadstone] WAAS/EGNOS question
rob at loadstone-gps.com
Tue Mar 27 20:58:45 BST 2007
A couple of months ago I was in regular contact with a scientist working at
ESTEC, the European Space Technical Center, over here in the Netherlands.
One remark he made I remember was:
"EGNOS is a joke. Even if the satellite would work there isn't a single
ground station to feed it. They switch the signal on every now and then,
that's when you get a 'differential' reading. It makes your GPS receiver
believe that the accuracy is better then normal, while actually it doesn't
do a thing."
The fact is, that ESA, EGNOS and Galileo all exist on paper and that's it.
Giove-A was launched in 2005 because if Europe had not done that, it would
have meant losing the rights on the frequencies needed for satellite
navigation. The planned launch for Giove-B, in autumn 2006 has been
postponed indefinitely. Now there are plans to build and launch Giove-A1
for launch late this year. But with money short (China and India have made
it clear that their promised contributions may not be granted) it remains
to be seen if this will happen. As far as EGNOS is concerned, there's a
need for groundstations. These should have been built between 2005 and
2007, but as far as I know, not one is ready by now. To feed an
augmentation system the groundstations are necessary. Then there is the
fact, as Mikolaj wrote, that a geo-stationary satellite is only 20 degrees
over the horizon on latitudes in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and
Poland. This means a lot of obstruction of buildings, not to mention the
thickness of the ionosphere with such an angle. All in all, better be happy
with GPS and don't put your hopes in Galileo.
Below two recent articles that you might find of interest:
Europe's orbiting dilemma
Galileo figures role. Magnifico?
Location aware services have been the next big thing for a few years. The
car-satnav market is roaring ahead, mobile phones and laptops are beginning to
know where they are, and among the melee of maps, mash-ups and marketing
ideas there must be some new ideas that'll turn into profit.
But while you might think of GPS as merely the best way to find Aunty Alice
in Dumfries, the technology is actually one of the most telling indicators for
the 21st century's evolving geo-political power struggles. Despite
globalisation, free trade and long-term best buddyhood the three big blocs
Europe and Asia still don't know how far to trust each other nor, really,
what they are themselves
GPS is such a good test case because it touches so many raw nerves. It's
essential to so much of the logistics that keep the material economy going that
the lack of it would hit any economy hard. Yet it's also essential for
state security: a modern army without GPS is unthinkable, let alone the
sort where the battles are fought by mobile machines. Do you really want to
have all of that in the hands of another country, without so much as a letter
of agreement between you to guarantee service? America has made a big show
of being able to turn GPS off in one location while keeping it going elsewhere:
this has not gone unnoticed.
And the alternative launching your own is very tempting. There's the
sheer thrusting national joy of having your own space technology, together with
all those potential spin-offs that you can funnel to your local economy.
Plus, there's the altruistic realisation that the more redundancy there is in
orbit the more systems, the more satellites the more reliable and
accurate the whole system becomes. Many mission-critical GPS uses can't be
because the single-system approach isn't reliable enough.
Europe got tempted. It decided to build its own satellite navigation system
called Galileo primarily because it didn't want to be beholden to the US for
an essential defence system. Europe being Europe, though, it was impossible
to build a cross-Union defence system because you'll never get the states to
agree on spending and strategy. So, the official focus was on the business
case, return on investment and so on. That was an easier sell.
Now, this sort of works on paper, providing you have an international
market and don't look at the figures too closely. In this case, Europe
would love to sign up to a non-American system giving Galileo preferred
status in China and India. Indeed, both countries were very keen. China was
up for it, and invested 200m (£135m) or around eight percent of the
planned total 2.5bn bill. This made the numbers look even more plausible.
Thing is, the Chinese are developing a habit of going along with external
technology for just long enough to get the hang of it, and then deciding to do
their own thing. That's happened with
Now it's happening with satellite location systems China has said that
its purely military, purely China-coverage
will have a commercial side, and there are already signs that the People's
Liberation Army (which runs a large number of companies) is pressuring its
to adopt the local system.
With the Asian market no longer in the bag, Galileo now makes a lot less
commercial sense than it used to not that it ever did. The Americans,
are increasingly unhappy about all this: the Pentagon has a policy called
"Total Spectrum Dominance", which includes among other joys a commitment to
control of space for military purposes. This does not include the rapid
proliferation of other people's satnav: there have already been quite
diplomatic moves to damp down Galileo. This ties in quite disturbingly well
with a backlash against outsourcing and a fear, fanned by politicians who
know better, that by trying to be a good international country the US has
given away the farm.
And just to complete the picture, Russia keeps saying it'll revitalise its
system, GLONASS, which has been hanging around the skies in a state of
for decades. India's taking part in that too.
In an ideal world, there'd be one satellite navigation system built to
extreme levels of reliability and available to all nations, run by an
NGO. That's how Inmarsat started, providing international maritime
satellite services to all under the auspices of the UN and ITU. Indeed,
dabbled its toes in the waters of location but has been ignored by the
It's not an ideal world, so it makes sense for Europe to have its own
satellite navigation system. It doesn't make sense to disguise it as a
project, because it isn't, and given that Europe is a past master of
spending lots of money on silly things there really should be a way to
for what it is without having to pretend it's ever going to turn a cent.
But then we go down the road of European defence strategy, which has no enemy
in the world a tenth as threatening to Union cohesion as itself.
And that's the map as revealed by satellite navigation systems: an uneasy
America, perhaps poised for a populist Democratic administration tempted by
and "getting the jobs back from abroad"; a confused and uncertain Europe,
and a separatist, go-it-alone China not in the mood to be bound by
convention. Heaven knows about the Russians.
So next time someone tries to sell you the idea that location aware
services are the wave of the future, be sure to ask exactly what that
future looks like.
They may be righter than they know.
Story URL: http://opinion.zdnet.co.uk/comment/0,1000002138,39285047,00.htm
Copyright © 1995-2006 CNET Networks, Inc. All rights reserved
Galileo companies given deadline
The companies hoping to run Europe's satellite-navigation system will have
to settle their differences soon or risk being shut out of the project.
EU transport ministers have set a deadline of 10 May for the squabbling
firms to set up a single company structure and appoint its CEO.
It is intended that the Galileo system be built as a partnership between
the public and private sectors.
But ministers said delays might force them to look at alternative solutions.
Speaking following an EU Transport Council meeting in Brussels, the German
minister Wolfgang Tiefensee reiterated his threat to reopen the tender process
if the current consortium failed to adopt a common position on all the
financial, technical and managerial decisions needed to make Galileo happen.
"Galileo is in a crisis," he told reporters. "We cannot by any means say
that the blockages... have been overcome."
And the EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot added: "If the consortium
were not to respond, we would look at all possibilities, including a new call
for tender; but we're not at that stage and I feel that this ultimatum will
If the 10 May deadline was missed, the June Council Meeting would act on
the threat, the men stressed.
If that happens, one thought is that the European Space Agency - who
already have a stake in Galileo - might temporarily take over the project
control arrangements are sought.
The consortium is made up of leading aerospace and telecom concerns: EADS,
Thales, Inmarsat, Alcatel-Lucent, Finmeccanica, AENA, Hispasat, and TeleOp.
GALILEO UNDER CONSTRUCTION
A European Commission and European Space Agency project
30 satellites to be launched in batches by end of 2011-12
Will work alongside US GPS and Russian Glonass systems
Promises real-time positioning down to less than a metre
Guaranteed under all but most extreme circumstances
Suitable for safety-critical roles where lives depend on service
Since 2005, the companies have been trying to seal the details of a deal
that would give them a 20-year concession to build and run Galileo.
But the consortium has failed to agree a common commercial position, and
the agency designated by the EU to negotiate for the public sector has
discussions with the consortium until the infighting is over.
There are said to be differences over how lucrative contracts should be
allocated, and even accusations of political meddling behind the scenes.
Now, EU transport ministers hope to break the impasse by setting out a
By 10 May, they want to see:
List of 2 items
The legal structure for a single operating company put in place
A chief executive appointed who can talk for the entire consortium
without fear of being contradicted by its members
And by September, they also want a signature on the broad terms of the
"I intend to implement these conditions as strictly as possible," said Mr
Galileo's technologies are designed to bring greater accuracy and
reliability to navigation and timing signals delivered from space.
Analysts expect the system to open up a multi-billion-euro industry in
which receivers find their way into many more markets - from consumer
such as phones, to safety-critical applications, such as guided trains and
But Galileo has seen frequent slips in its timeline, and there are now
fears that unless the concession is resolved soon, the current projected
2011/12 for full deployment and operation will be missed.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/22 13:40:45 GMT
© BBC MMVII
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