back to article EU funding to save Galileo?

Stalled Euro sat-nav project Galileo could be set to receive more extensive backing from the European Union (EU) in order to get it moving again. Galileo was supposed to be more than half funded by private investors, principally AENA, Alcatel, EADS, Finmeccanica, Hispasat, Inmarsat, TeleOp, and Thales. The idea was that the new …


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  1. Steve Davies

    Hence the headlong rush for road pricing...Hammer misses nail..

    ...which is an EU led thing.

    All those billions (and bilioins and billions) have to be got from somewhere so the law abiding validly registered drivers (aka fish in a barrel who have to drive to work) will cough up....

    The GPS from Galileo was always a cover IMV. Wanted in case the US 'turned off' their existing GPS.... Isn't that one, the one out satnavs use their civilian service ? IIRC their military has a much snazzier one.

    The EU web has lots of docs that illustrate the depth of exploitation expected/needed.

    Is this the world's biggest example of the wrong technical solution for a problem that is mis-stated, mis-sold and easily solved by other and much cheaper means ?

  2. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Funding Galileo (the satellite)

    Easy, we sue the Vatican for libelling Galileo (the physicist) at his 1633 trial. With 374 years of accrued damages we can launch the satellites and have change left over to buy a round for everyone in the EU.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A boondoggle still

    It's a sad comment on what passes for the "political class" in Europe that apparently the ability for "the EU to be able to undertake worldwide military action against Washington's wishes" is actually considered even vaguely plausible. They have neither the means or the will, but scoring anti-American points is apparently worth all the money.

    Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of dollars will flow into the project by that paragon of human rights that is the People's Republic of China.

    Nary a comment from our Yank-bashers there on how partnering with the bloodiest regime of the last 100 years will assist them in being " able to undertake worldwide military action against Washington's wishes", but the aforementioned great and good in Europe doubtless know that they can condemn the US all they want and suffer little less than chilly relations, but that the Chinese might exact a higher price. Glad to know they have as much courage as sense.

  4. Stuart Van Onselen


    It seems Mr Fiennes, in his enthusiasm to bash Yank-bashers, has mis-understood two things.

    Being "able to undertake worldwide military action against Washington's wishes" does NOT mean "attacking the US", it may also mean attacking someone that the US does not want you to attack, but not enough so that they will interfere militarily.

    Once this is understood, the comment about "is actually considered even vaguely plausible" becomes moot.

    Secondly, just because China puts some money into the project, it does not necessarily follow that China will have significant control over it.

    So China may not necessarily "exact a higher price".

    If China wanted, they COULD exact a much higher price from the US, given how much international debt W's little Mesopotamian adventure has cost...

  5. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    This is news ?

    I'm sure I predicted a long time ago that this would happen !

    As the article says, there is very little market for a competing system, and even less for a revenue generating user base. In the consumer market you have advanced, mature, and above all inexpensive receivers already available. To launch a new receiver on Galileo will require significant investment in new receiver designs and so the end result will be a more expensive unit - ie something that isn't going to take off in the consumer market.

    Turning to the commercial market, there are many applications where the current GPS is good enough, or by using differential GPS can be made highly accurate for (eg) site surveying and similar activities. So little market there then.

    The best hope for commercial sales of paid-for subscriptions will be closed user groups that can be forced to adopt. One such group could be aviation where regulations could be passed to make carriage of approved equipment mandatory for certain types of activity. This would meet "much opposition" I think from those affected - think many thousands (or tens of thousands) to adda second GPS for use in Europe to work alongside the existing GPS that will continue to be used in the rest of the world !

    No, I can't see the mass market in paid-for services, I couldn't see it several years ago, and I can't see anytime in the future. It seems the only people who could see it are the politicians trying to avoid putting public money into it - enough said !

  6. Ralph B

    Remove Bollocks

    > Also, it will always be possible for a crypto attacker to

    > know his true location by other means, and thus to have a

    > good idea what an encrypted Galileo feed actually says.

    Bollocks. The satelites are not telling people where they (the people) are, they are telling the people where (and when) they (the satellites) are. It's up to the satnav devices to use this information to work out where their owners are.

    This being the case, how exactly is the knowledge of his true location supposed to help an attacker to crack the satelite signal?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a quick update

    Stuart Van Onselen

    Please re-read my post. I certainly don't think the EU is likely to *physically* attack the US, I was merely pointing out the EU has neither to capability or the will to attack anyone significant, without US support, and hence has no requirement for the Galileo capabilities.

    However, since China is a significant investor, it will prove impossible to prevent it using Galileo for military purposes, which is where the small matter all those dead bodies littering recent Chinese history become relevant.

    I assume your reference to the price China could force the US to pay refers to the large numbers of T-Bill's the Chinese government holds, which is another matter. Incidentally, the US government deficit has greatly reduced, despite increased spending, after the Bush tax cuts of 2003, but any attempt by the PRC to "crash sell" these assets would wipe out both it's exchange rate policy and hence much of it's export income, so would have to be considered unlikely


  8. Greg Dolph

    The US can't realistically cut off GPS in Europe

    The US military is more reliant on GPS than any other entity, cutting GPS off in a theater would essentially destroy its ability to fight in that theater. Many of the advanced weapons like missiles and fighters use their own intertial guidance systems and wouldn't be effected but slightly lower tech systems like the man on the ground, helicopters, trucks and such are very heavily dependent. If I was the US military I would be more worried about somebody denying the system to me anywhere in the world. The US has much more effective ways to let europe know it's unhappiness than blocking a system that it itself relies on.

  9. Steve Davies

    Not a U.S military thing...

    Greg, check out 'Boeing' 'RSN' and 'DARPA'.

    Also Lockheed Martin has been shoving new gps stuff up there for the last several years and has more waiting the hanger for deployment (according to publically abvailable documents I hasten to add). I don't think the Galileo issue is about the US military machine - it is about commercial exploitation. In the US the industrial military complex is a big issue - for us it is the EU (and our own governments) and the 'technology based cash machine' complex IMV.

  10. Chris Coles

    Europe must not rely on private funding for something as important as Galileo

    As I filed a UK patent in 1989 for what is today one of the primary services, personal security, mooted to be created by the consortium and hold, as a result, three US and one Japanese patent for such a service, I feel that I have some right to comment.

    Europe is crippled by the idea that you must pay a kings ransom in salaries to employ a large bureaucracy, but get the rest of the people to pay for the primary projects the bureaucracy envisions.

    A wonderful example is the Channel Tunnel which, if it had been fully capitalised by equity would have been from the outset a financial success. Instead, some idiot got the idea that it would be better to let every bank loan the funds needed to finish the project and today it is essentially bankrupt and totally in the hands of the banks who care not a jot for the long term vision of a united Europe.

    Galileo is another road. It will bring great benefits to all citizens of Europe by permitting, as with GPS, an open solution to any location based service. You pay for roads through general taxation. Europe must pay for Galileo in the same way.

    The whole planet is developing navigation solutions. At the moment we are all having to use one single system, GPS. There is no fall back. There are many problems with the existing GPS service, not the least that the United States has shown no willingness to upgrade the system to the power levels needed by everyday consumers in a post Cold War world. Something that is hardly surprising as we can already see the Second Cold War in the process of starting today in the likes of East Africa and the middle East.

    Without Galileo, Europe has no knowledge base in such technology, no manufacturing capacity, (other than through US contracts), nor any back up in a time of international emergency.

    It is time for Europe to recognise that European projects of importance must be financed from general taxation. Europe cannot be left to rely on private banks, commerce or any other non-European nation to supply its technology needs in a crisis. For, be absolutely certain, in a crisis, Europe will need Galileo and, much more importantly, the resulting knowledge base created by its construction.

    Chris Coles.

  11. Altis

    US military doesn't rely on GPS

    Or, more correctly, the US military doesn't rely on those GPS signals that are available for civilian use.

    Signals for at least two positioning systems are transmitted by each GPS satellite. There is a coarse signal which is used by our satnavs. The accuracy of this is limited and can be worsened at any moment if they switch Selective Availability (SA) back on. There is another signal that is more precise and is much more difficult to decode and, I imagine, is what they use to guide their missiles.

    Some more info here:

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