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European Officials Consider Galileo Mandate for Mobile Devices

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April 30, 2014

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Perhaps taking a page of Russia’s playbook for mandating use of GLONASS in certain equipment, European officials are looking into the possibility of requiring the addition of Galileo capability to mobile phones and other device and platforms.

As it has become clear that the European GNSS will be the third or fourth GNSS available — after GPS, GLONASS, and probably BeiDou — the European Union’s executive body, the European Commission, is exploring non-market strategies to increase adoption of Galileo by manufacturers and users.

Next Wednesday (May 7, 2014) the European Commission will hold a public hearing to “gather insights and contributions from the stakeholders involved in providing emergency assistance in response to 112 calls.”

The hearing will focus on the issue of enabling mobile phones to determine the caller location using the GNSS technology in the phones, in particular the European GNSS systems — Galileo and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) — and sending this location information automatically to public safety answering points (PSAP).

Last year, the EC conducted a public consultation on applications of EU satellite navigation programs to determine how the agency could help maximize and ensure the market uptake of GNSS in downstream applications, particularly adoption of the European GNSS. A focus of the consultation was whether the EC should prepare another GNSS Applications Action Plan for the 2014–18 timeframe as it did for 2010–13.

As part of this initiative, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants delivered a report to DG Enterprise, “New priority domains and possible actions for the period 2014-2018” for Galileo and EGNOS.

The Roland Berger study addressed four main barriers to market uptake:
·      The deployment of the European GNSS is experiencing delays and there is a risk that Galileo will be the fourth global GNSS to reach its final operational configuration (FOC). This has led to a lack of confidence in the market on the deployment schedule currently communicated by the European Commission.
·      As Galileo will be the third or fourth GNSS to reach FOC, there exists uncertainty in the market on the added value that Galileo will bring.
·      Galileo-specific developments encounter difficulties to obtain funding.
·      Receiver manufacturers are building technologically more complex multi-constellation receivers to comply with regulations of foreign GNSS owners aimed at imposing the use of their own system and to obtain increased quality of service.

Three of the options laid out in the consultation called for various levels of regulatory actions, including mandated Galileo equipage: for critical infrastructure (such as aviation, tracking dangerous goods, and eCall automatic location reporting of road accidents), for “selected regulated activities” affecting mobile communications devices (the subject of the May 7 hearing), and a requirement that all new mobile phones and other communication devices be Galileo-capable.

The hearing will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 7, in the Albert Borschette Congress Center, Room AB-4A, Rue Froissart 36, Brussels, Belgium.

Representatives from the EC Directorate General for Enterprise & Industry (DG Enterprise), the Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology (DG Connect), and the European GNSS Agency (GSA) will provide context and outline the objectives of the hearing.

The rest of the morning will be given over to “stakeholder” presentations from Spanish Posts & Telecom (ES SP) Project Team Emergency Services established by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) Electronic Communications Committee’s Working Group on Numbering and Networks), the European Emergency Number Association (EENA), East of England Ambulance Service, THALES, RX Networks, and the Ptolemus Consulting group. Open discussion will follow in the afternoon.

One possible sticking point for implementation of Galileo mandates derives from a 2004 agreement on GPS/Galileo cooperation signed by the United States and the European Union. Article 5 of that agreement states, “The Parties agree to consult with each other before the establishment of any measures . . . that have the effect, directly or indirectly, of mandating the use of any civil satellite-based navigation and timing signals or services, value-added service, augmentation, or global navigation and timing equipment within its respective territory (unless the mandating of such use is expressly authorized by ICAO, or IMO).”

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