back to article One does not simply repurpose an entire internet constellation for sat-nav, but UK might have a go anyway

The saga of the UK's Brexit Satellite (BS)* took another turn last week as rumours circulated that the government might take a stake in stricken OneWeb with a view to repurposing the constellation for satellite navigation. Blighty has been floundering following the realisation that departing the EU would mean losing access to …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Full-blown kakistocracy

    £96m study to spaff half a billion on the wrong satellites. These are the brains behind Brexit, ladies and gentlemen. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

      > that report? Conspicuous by its absence.

      RTFA. The wrong satellites is a knee jerk reaction without having even finished the report.

      Not to worry, once Grommit has had his eyes tested he and Wallace will be the next men on the moon! (if only)

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

        I am assuming that Cummings can a) get on the blower and get some preliminary findings or b) the report, like the Russia one, is not available to plebs or c) he just blundered on with this nonsense as he thought he knew all about satellites, as he thinks he knews about everything else (exhibit A, his blog). Either way, it was 92* million wasted.

        * Sorry, not 96 million.

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Where have I seen that figure before?

          "I wanna know why 27 MPs died on their arse for what looks to be $91 million worth of satellites that weren't there.". Which implies Dominic Cummings is Kaiser Soze.

    2. oiseau Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

      What could possibly go wrong?

      Everything.

      Absolutely everything.

      O.

      1. TVU Silver badge

        Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

        Exactly - this mad dog Brexit fantasy will just be a colossal waste of taxpayers' money and the bills will mount up with absolutely nothing in return.

        The best thing to do is just use the Americans' GPS service and have done with it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

      £96M is a bargain.

      MoD has just spent half a billion on EvO, the land radio system which has delivered absolutely nothing. It consists of an 8port 100Mbit/sec switch which doesn't work. So the project has been funded for more of the same.

      MoD has also also just spent billions on Ajax vehicles which are so badly welded together you cant fit stuff in and the tracks fall off as the drives are mis-aligned. These are brand new as well mind.

      MoD has also just spent 180Million on new turrets for their Warrior land vehicle and got... Absolutely nothing.

      So, yes, £96 Million is an obscene and quite frankly unjustifiable amount. But by Govt spending its a bargain.

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

        £96m on a REPORT? Shurely shome mishtake.

        1. Mike Richards

          Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

          It was on glossy paper and they used HP ink.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

            given the total number of pages in that (secret, presumably?) report, coincidental with sudden, inexplicable deforestation of half the of the British Isles in the last 25 years, and given the average capacity of a HP cartridge (single digit capacity)... yes.

          2. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

            It was on glossy paper and they used HP ink.

            So when they can't make the repayments it will be repossessed?

          3. Boy Mulcaster

            Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

            Could be worse they might have printed on HP paper as well.

    4. b0llchit
      Headmaster

      Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

      Well, it states £92m, but that is just a smaller part.

      The SI prefix 'm' means milli (factor 10-3). So,... ninety-two milli pounds of monetary exchange is on the books. That means, the cost of the report has been a mere 9.2 pennies! What is not to like about such a deal! Hell, please make me five more of these or the fractional penny may give accounting some problems.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

        Hell, please make me five four more of these or the fractional penny may give accounting some problems.

        Seems like you have some calculating problems as well.

    5. Nifty Bronze badge

      Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

      Bit of a knee-jerk to conflate Brexit with technical incompetence.

      If 47 years of EC/EU membership didn't fix HM Govts tendency towards tech white elephants, why should staying in now suddenly fix it?

    6. tfb Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

      The UK government: people so stupid they think Dominic Cummings is smart.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

        No no no.

        I have it on good authority from somebody who works in the cabinet office that Dominic Cummings IS REALLY SMART compared to the rest of them.

        Apparently he is the only one that is capable of making a decision - regardless of what it might be.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who can justify spending 92 million on a report? HOW can anything cost that much? Assuming you paid the smartest boffins around 100 quid an hour, that's still 920,000 person hours of effort. HUNDREDS OF MAN YEARS. Where has that money gone? To who? Who authorised it? Why haven't they been arrested for misconduct in public office? Come on reg you're meant to be journalists. Do some journalisting. Freedom of information requests etc. Call up people and ask awkward questions. Find out who spaffed public money away like this.

    1. Adair Silver badge

      Remember this is 'British Empire 2' we're talking about. We're starting small (it's really 'English Empire 2'), but we're spending like we stole it ["What? We did steal it. Well, okay then - no problem!"]

      So where were we? Oh, yes, if you're going to look like an empire you have to spend like one - noses in the trough, consider all awkward matters rapidly closed, move on, break things, never admit anything, never apologise, point to those sunlit uplands, lie, lie and lie again, whatever it takes to keep the money flowing from the sheeple to the people who really matter - my family, my mates and my paymasters.

      Job done.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Remember this is 'British Empire 2' we're talking about"

        It's only sad, embittered remain-fanatics that have ever talked about it.

        1. Adair Silver badge

          It's a 'state of mind' not a title anyone uses, unless they intend winding up those who know the cap fits their state of mind.

          You know the kind of thing: 'world beating', 'punching above our weight', 'a seat at the table', 'buccaneering', etc. - they are all terms that hark back to empire and colonialism.

          Some people in the UK are determined to march into the future facing backwards, instead of allowing who we are today - ALL OF US - and looking to see what we can be when we do COLLECTIVELY, with allowance for differences and compromise, work towards being the kind of society that MOST of us want to be a part of.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          >It's only sad, embittered remain-fanatics that have ever talked about it.

          Like Nigel Farage? ...

        3. Avatar of They
          WTF?

          What?

          Remain fanatics don't talk about the glory days of the British empire, remain fanatics realise the best way forward is to be looking at the future, not the rose tinted, conquest, slave ridden past.

          I think you completely mis-understand what a remain person is. You can't champion the british empire by wanting to be part of the greater EU community.

          1. Wellyboot Silver badge

            Re: What?

            >>>not the rose tinted, conquest, slave ridden past<<<

            Go to Rome, look around the old buildings and have a think about that statement.* The fact that we had the only (so far) world dominating conquest driven empire doesn't make us worse than any one else, just better organized.

            If the general population was harking back to the past our government would be Farage & co, but as they've never made any impact in UK parliament elections I'd hazard it's not a little England mentality that drove us to leave.

            *Germany 1933-45 was a close approximation to the Roman empires use of human labour.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What?

              Ah, but those were European Empires, so inherently good, at least in the eyes of those that struggle to accept a democratic decision.

              1. Adair Silver badge

                Re: What?

                For a given value of 'democracy'. It's always worth thinking through what that word means in our own minds; what it might need to mean in order to be something that a substantial majority of mature people would wan to buy into for the long term well being of the society they belong to; and then how it is currently being played out in reality.

                Chances are none of those three aspects will match up very well. Clearly 'democracy' is a fluid concept, depending on who we ask and what the person asked is hoping for.

                I guess a simple definition of 'democracy' might be something like: government conducted with the engagement and consent of 'the people'.

                1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                  Re: What?

                  Fluid is a very good description, one of our more notable leftpondian cousins used the phrase "government of the people, by the people, for the people" which sums up the democratic ideal in a nutshell but none of the detail.

                  The great irony is that this was said during a civil war fought to decide if ultimate governing authority would reside with the individual US states or at federal level. This is an ongoing balance of power argument even thought the well documented original reason has long since been put to rest.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What?

              "If the general population was harking back to the past our government would be Farage & co, but as they've never made any impact in UK parliament elections I'd hazard it's not a little England mentality that drove us to leave."

              You are overlooking the fact that in order to respond to the electoral threat of Farage's UKIP, the Tories turned themselves into UKIP.

              1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                Re: What?

                I thought BoJo had merely occupied the popular middle ground, left vacant recently by Corbyns shift left after being filled by Blair & co since the Conservative moved right during the 80s/90s. (etc..) - plus ca change.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: What?

                  I think you meant to say "populist".

                  1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                    Re: What?

                    Isn't that how you get to win all elections, by being the voters preferred choice?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It has been widely reported in the financial press that a senior downing street advisor whose name rhymes with Cominic Dummings was the brains behind this bid. OneWeb have been desperately telling anyone who has any money that their assets (i.e. the useless internet sats on orbit) and their IP (worthless) and their brains (all long gone) can be put to whatever use the buyer wants. The Brits want a GNSS. The Canadians want to use it for comms. One of the Chinese bids had an inkling for imaging.

      So the rumour in the industry is that he's mates with one of OneWeb's investors or creditors, who have convinced him that this is not only feasible, but a stroke of innovative technical genius that could deliver both cheap, abundant satellite internet and a world-class GNSS system for about one-tenth the cost of Galileo.

      Those of us old enough to remember how well this alleged Mr Dummings's last Tech Solutionism misadventure went may be able to predict how this is going to go.

      Because it was a week ago. With that bloody nonsense test and trace app he thought would save the country. 60,000 people have died.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Who can justify spending 92 million on a report?"

      You're forgetting the printing costs. It'll be printed on pulped £20 notes and gilt-edged.

    4. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

      Though the Reg claims it's 'a report', everywhere else I checked the story referred to its as:

      "An 18-month engineering, design and development project is being led by the UK Space Agency to deliver a technical assessment and schedule for a UK global positioning system that would provide civilian and encrypted signals and be compatible with the US GPS system."

      So not at all 'a report'.

      A technical study which seemingly involves very clever people playing about with various bits of technology. So a high-technology research project. With 'contracts' (Plural) being let, implying the possibility of multiple strands of research.

      So, AC, I agree - "Come on reg, you're meant to be journalists".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > deliver a technical assessment and schedule for a UK global positioning system

        Aka "a report"

        1. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

          ...which describes the expensive experimental works that have been undertaken, the various new/modified experimental technology they've come up with, whether as prototypes to be tested, or as monitoring technology to test the prototype (because sometimes in research, you need to build the measuring device you need before you can build the thing you want to measure). Also there will presumably be various computer simulations/numerical models, probably run as parametric studies testing sensitivities to various parameters. And yes, I expect there will be a report. In fact, there will probably be many dozens of reports.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Yes, they need engineers and designers on that report. They need them to answer questions like "What is needed to build a system like this?", "What do we already have that we can build on top of?", and several rounds of "How about this instead?". You need to pay the engineers. Sometimes, they need to run some models or simulations. They don't, however, need to build satellites or receivers for them, nor build new computers to run models on. Their purpose is to come up with some possible designs for a system and expected costs in time and money to build them. It's mostly thinking of designs and writing about them. Their remit is not to build prototypes; their remit is to write about possibilities. At the end, their product will be a large set of writing, hopefully including useful answers to all those questions. Or in other words, a big report.

          2. Smooth Newt Silver badge
            Trollface

            ...which describes the expensive experimental works that have been undertaken, the various new/modified experimental technology they've come up with, whether as prototypes to be tested, or as monitoring technology to test the prototype (because sometimes in research, you need to build the measuring device you need before you can build the thing you want to measure). Also there will presumably be various computer simulations/numerical models, probably run as parametric studies testing sensitivities to various parameters. And yes, I expect there will be a report. In fact, there will probably be many dozens of reports.

            Oh God. It's been pissed away on some useless research project. The only questions that need answering are How Much and How Long. Why didn't they just ask the people who have already delivered GPS systems.

            1. Wellyboot Silver badge
              Facepalm

              >>> How Much and How Long<<<

              As one of the sponsors, asking this of the project team putting Galileo into operation was obviously flawed in some way.

      2. ThatOne Silver badge
        Devil

        > involves very clever people playing about with various bits of technology

        That's preposterous. Governmental scientific reports are made worldwide by choosing a large group of (not necessarily theme-related) public faces, protégés, media darlings, and whatever friends & family you need to keep happy, then giving them a huge budget (so everyone can get a fair share) and a longish time to spend churn out some pointless but extremely verbose report stating the obvious.

        It's a PR stunt to gain time, dilute responsibility and do some of the back-scratching required to stay in power.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You noted that it was clearly stated that it was being led by the UK Space Agency?

          No, apparently not.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            > You noted that it was clearly stated that it was being led by the UK Space Agency?

            And you missed I was speaking generally. I thought the "reports are made worldwide" part would be a dead giveaway. Apparently not.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        >So not at all 'a report'.

        You are right this isn't "a report", just like HS2 this is an attempt to do stuff before formally awarding contracts or getting Parliamentary approval. So that when the time comes for such approval the government can say words to the effect that so much has been spent that to cancel would be a waste etc.; so we must throw even more money (in HS2's case circa x100) into this project to not waste the monies spent todate...

    5. Smooth Newt Silver badge
      Happy

      Gravy train

      Assuming you paid the smartest boffins around 100 quid an hour,

      You are way too cheap on this. £300 an hour + VAT is a more realistic billing rate for a junior muppet from the sort of outfit the government uses. The people themselves get maybe 20% of this.

      A senior management consultant will be much, much more expensive. And the government loves those. Think £12,000 per day + VAT. And they will have two or three junior people assigned to them just to carry their bags and fetch their coffee, and the government will be billed separately for those.

      Expenses are on top of that, of course, and no-one is going to be exactly slumming it.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

        Re: Gravy train

        And don't forget the additional fees for not being able to do meetings while confined.

        Then add some lawyers.

        And pretty soon you arrive at ethe £500 000 000 figure...

  3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    What a shame. An opportunity to write something interesting has been passed up on to make room for a tedious anti-government rant.

    1. Greybearded old scrote
      Facepalm

      If buying completely the wrong tool for the job isn't an occasion for a rant, it's hard to know what is.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        So how about going into detail explaining why it's not appropriate.

        Put some work in and assume the possibility that the government has considered this after consulting experts in the field and may have ideas beyond the obvious.

        But no. Government Tory therefore government stupid. Must not agree with Tories. Must pretend socialism isn't the most deadly ideology in the history of the world. etc.

        1. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re assume...

          "the possibility that the government has considered this after consulting experts in the field and may have ideas beyond the obvious"

          something something extraoardinary claims extraordinary evidence? Ok, I'm exaggerating, but I don't think it's a fundamentally safe assumption, even if it isn't that out of the ordinary.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            Re: Re assume...

            They obviously have some plans for it which aren't immediately apparent.

            It might be that they want to use it for rural broadband, or they have some boffins who want to try using a massive cluster of satellites to provide positioning in a different way to GPS, offering far more redundancy than the handful of satellites GPS uses - even if it doesn't have the same cm level accuracy.

            With China reportedly investing in anti-satellite warfare, a low resolution backup system would be useful - nobody is going to complain if an ICBM misses by a yard.

            Or maybe they have some plans to use it as a inter-satellite communication network given that the UK has a fairly large satellite industry already.

            Or something to do with the spaceport that the government is trying to get going.

            There is certainly more to this than people [are presumably pretending that they] believe.

            1. Bloodbeastterror

              Re: Re assume...

              @disgustedoftunbridgewells

              Stop digging. You've already shown us your brains.

              (If you're being ironic, it's way over my head).

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Re assume...

              "They obviously have some plans for it which aren't immediately apparent."

              If they're not immediately apparent how can they be obvious?

              1. M. Poolman
                Thumb Up

                Re: Re assume...

                Thumbs up for the obvious riposte, which I obviously failed to spot (you can have a beer icon if you prefer)

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Re assume...

                The existence of the plans may be obvious without having sight of the plans themselves.

                Thus

                they obviously have plans

                but

                the plans (themselves) are not apparent

                1. doublelayer Silver badge

                  Re: Re assume...

                  If you don't know what the plans are, because they are not apparent, how do you know they so obviously exist? Has someone told you of additional plans, so you know of their existence because you trust that person? Have you seen the big cabinet with "Extra plans: Satellite Navigation System" written on it? What evidence do you have for there being additional plans other than that it would make sense if there were some? There are many things that would make sense if they existed, but that doesn't create them.

                2. MrBanana

                  Re: Re assume...

                  You are Donald Rumsfeld, and I claim my £5.

            3. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Re assume...

              "They obviously have some plans for it which aren't immediately apparent."

              Plans which usually involve funnelling taxpayer money into the pockets of friends of spaffer and de pfeffel

              It's extremely hard to repurpose specialised satellites which are already in orbit. We don't have SHADO It's also vary hard to repurpose such birds even before launch as they're production line items built for a purpose

              Oneweb's most valuable asset outside of what's already launched is its FCC license. I can see it being used for a UK military comms network to replace Skynet (which is what effectively kept Iridium going for years) but that's about it and doing so would make about as much sense as building a pair of Nimitz-size conventionally powered aircraft carriers without CATOBAR facilities.

            4. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

              Re: Re assume...

              Lovely juxtaposition there; you start by slating socialism, then immediately suggest our government may have spaffed £100m on satellites to use for rural broadband? Not even Jezza would have come up with that one.

        2. Adair Silver badge

          Are human beings capable of being self-serving idiots?

          Are 'governments' comprised of 'human beings'?

          Is it possible that governments are capable of making decisions based on self-serving idiocy?

          The evidence presented thus far suggests that experts in the relevant fields are, at best, bemused at this apparent decision regarding the satellites. We shall await further developments and illumination, but on the record so far (investing millions in a company with no ferries and no history of operating them, etc.) we should not be hopeful that this latest wheeze has been thought through thoroughly - unless it happens to financially benefit certain 'cronies', regardless of the eventual outcome of the service.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "offering a contract worth millions to a recently established company with no ferries, but an agreement to rent them (which later fell through) and run be people with plenty of history of operating them"

            FTFY

            1. Adair Silver badge

              It was a shambles, and you know it.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                No, it wasn't a shambles. To call it a shambles is being grossely unkind to shambles.

                It was a complete and utter fustercluck.

            2. BebopWeBop Silver badge

              And a set of terms and conditions ripped off from a fast-food chain. Reassuring non?

            3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              At least this satellite company has satellites - so that's progress

            4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Actually the "no ferries" shouldn't really have been a problem. They could have been leased when needed.

              1. Adair Silver badge

                True, but that doesn't alter the fact that the whole thing was clearly a cynical money grubbing exercise relying on who we know rather than what we know.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Actually the "no ferries" shouldn't really have been a problem. They could have been leased when needed.

                I thought that was part of the problem the leases would only be satisfied if the companies owning the ferries didn't have other (more profitable) uses for those ferries, which in the event of the UK needing ferries was a certainty due to the other contracts the ferry operators had....

                1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                  >Actually the "no ferries" shouldn't really have been a problem. They could have been leased when needed.

                  The no PPE/ventilator stockpile wasn't a problem because we could always buy all we needed from our normal supplier in the event of a global pandemic

        3. Greybearded old scrote

          Designed for a whole other purpose, which doesn't require the precision of the atomic clocks in navigation satellites. That will do for a start.

          My usual reaction to a Tory government is 'evil not stupid.' Their policies have usually been fairly well thought out given their values. Ones that I consider to be shocking.

          The last few years have forced a revision to, 'evil and stupid.'

          1. Greybearded old scrote

            BTW, that's the last feed this troll gets from me.

            1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

              Troll? Are you talking about me?

              I want interesting articles rather than lazy snark. What's wrong with that?

              1. Adair Silver badge

                Nothing wrong with that at all, except that in the current circumstances one would be hopeful that those who presume to rule/lead us, having found themselves - largely through their own efforts - in a rather large hole, would have the humility, integrity and political nouse to STOP DIGGING!

                What do we see: the digging machine going into overdrive. 'Lazy snark' is the least of your, and our, worries.

                1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

                  First rule of politics, surely: never admit incompetence or failure.

                  Second rule of politics: spin any incompetence or failure as success, innovation.

                  Third rule of politics: when rules 1 and 2 aren't holding water, come up with an even more ridiculous wheeze to divert attention.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                > I want interesting articles rather than lazy snark. What's wrong with that?

                Nothing wrong with that, but that's not what he was referring to. He was kindly calling you a troll to explain your other strange, conspiratorial, and Government-apologist comments.

        4. Dan 55 Silver badge

          The article does say, they're LEO comms satellites, not MEO navigational satellites.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            The article does say, they're LEO comms satellites, not MEO navigational satellites.

            Indeed, and the other articles in the satellite press point out that the government's 20% stake is primarily to help with general communications, and rural broadband, which isn't an unreasonable investment.

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              FT says this:

              "The prime minister appears to have been won over by proposals from the Satellite Applications Catapult this year to develop an innovative positioning technology that could be installed on OneWeb’s low-earth-orbiting satellites, several people with knowledge of the discussions said."

              Now either this is now being backpeddled into rural broadband (with a very different model to what they're presently doing) or they really are ploughing ahead with some kind of navigational service with no compatibility with any present device.

            2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

              Which would be fair enough - but them why claim that it is in order to provide a GPS system?

            3. Mage Silver badge
              Alert

              Re: general communications, and rural broadband,

              Except when you spread the capacity over an entire county it's tiny compared to a fibre fed cabinet. But the capacity may indeed be the total capacity for the fleet / world and only a fraction of that even available in one place at one time.

              There is a good reason why OneWeb has gone bust.

              Satellite Internet is for users off the grid, in the wilderness, out at sea, in an aircraft. Not for British Rural. Not even these days for Africa (Mobile in rural areas, fibre in the cities).

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: general communications, and rural broadband,

                "Satellite Internet is for users off the grid"

                GEO satellite yes. LEO is a different kettle of fish.

                One of the very first things it does is provide sufficient competition to keep the incumbent terrestrial operators HONEST

                One thing which springs to mind is that satellite broadband is going to punch straight through regional/national government-ordered censrorhsip walls. I could see the UK government making it _illegal_ to use a "foreign" satellite Internet provider because it would allow users to bypass the pornblocks.

                1. Mage Silver badge

                  Re: GEO satellite yes. LEO is a different kettle of fish.

                  Only reduces the latency and makes the capacity per area worse. The capacity is rubbish compared to more masts. There is also no excuse for no fibre if a location has mains electricity or mains water.

        5. Dr. Vagmeister

          It could be that the satellites operate in Ku-band (11GHz+ downlink), and GPS receivers operate at L-band (1GHz to 2GHz). So, unless they can convert the satellite from Ku-band to L-band, then they cannot be configured to operate with existing GPS receivers.

          We already have numerous GPS signals, and the associated WAAS (L-band, wide area augmentation system signal) to compensate for the accuracy, which many GPS receivers already can make use of - mine from 2003 uses the WAAS signal.

          Without the report, then we cannot assess the validity of the claims.

          Will the proposed system offer cm level accuracy, or be no better than GPS+WAAS ???

          Also, why would anyone pay 20% (£500million) to a company that has filed for bankruptcy ??

          If the money is paid, where does it go ??, does the company suddenly become operational ??

          I recall that the government were being told that they can introduce backdoors into encryption and they believed it was ok with no downsides. Is this the same scenario, the government is being told what it wants to hear by people with some technical ability, to get them to believe that what is stated in the £92million report is 100% accurate ?

          The report cannot be seen - so, will this be a case of money spent (£92m + £500m) and then it fails and we just brush it under the carpet ?

          1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            > Will the proposed system offer cm level accuracy, or be no better than GPS+WAAS ???

            I'm just speculating but perhaps the desired use case doesn't need cm level accuracy?

            >Also, why would anyone pay 20% (£500million) to a company that has filed for bankruptcy ??

            Because the company has assets which others will pay to acquire.

            >If the money is paid, where does it go ??, does the company suddenly become operational ??

            The administrators who have been appointed to liquidate the company will take their cut and the rest will go to OneWeb's creditors.

            > The report cannot be seen - so, will this be a case of money spent (£92m + £500m) and then it fails and we just brush it under the carpet ?

            The "report" isn't necessary for us to read. It might even be beneficial to keep it secret if we don't want competitors knowing our governments plans.

            If it turns out that the government has spent £500m on something they can't use, they will be held to account. "Report" or no.

            1. Dr. Vagmeister

              I read the Guardian link, which refers to the Times. The 20% is part of a consortium deal, with the Chinese interested. The Guardian states :

              "The government is seeking a system that will support mobile phones and provide vital location information for the military and businesses."

              There is no secrecy here, no competitors, only other stakeholders that are not commensurate with the UK's ways of life - i.e., freedom.

              I would not have any other potentially hostile nation knowing the details, and having direct access and involvement in a GPS system which is critical to our military.

              1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

                My understanding is that the Chinese aren't part of the consortium but are a potential rival bidder.

            2. Rich 11 Silver badge

              If it turns out that the government has spent £500m on something they can't use, they will be held to account.

              By 'held to account' you mean moved sideways. Look at the posts Andrew Lansley and Jeremy Hunt were appointed to after their successive balls-ups over the NHS cost the country billions, for example.

              That is not 'held to account'.

              1. DJO Silver badge

                Just like Johnson was held to account for wasting over £1billion on failed vanity projects when he was the mayor of London.

                The Tories have quietly defanged every authority that could have any power to hold them to account for their incompetence.

            3. tfb Silver badge
              Boffin

              If the desired use-case is a positioning system and if it doesn't need to be very accurate then, um, we have those already. The whole fucking point of us needing our own system was that we might get locked out of the super-accurate mode of the existing ones.

            4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

              "

              If it turns out that the government has spent £500m on something they can't use, they will be held to account.

              "

              Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha <gasp> <choke>

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                >they will be held to account.

                Possibly upto and including the ultimate sanction - a Private-Eye cover joke

            5. Alan Brown Silver badge

              "I'm just speculating but perhaps the desired use case doesn't need cm level accuracy?"

              Uplinks for road charging?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            It could be that the satellites operate in Ku-band (11GHz+ downlink),

            The 74 already launched are indeed Ku-band, the rest of the planned 648 haven't been launched yet, so need not be in that range.

            Also, why would anyone pay 20% (£500million) to a company that has filed for bankruptcy ??

            Depends on why they filed. It wouldn't be the first company that overextended itself, and when rescued went on to become a successful business. That's why bankruptcy protection like the US "Chapter 11" exists.

            1. Dr. Vagmeister

              Unless the satellites are using a non-waveguide approach to powerful signal transmission, then the satellite will have to be re-engineered as Ku-band waveguides are smaller than L-band waveguides. See :

              http://www.miwv.com/millimeter-wave-resources/wiki/waveguide-dimensions/

              Compare WR-650 L-Band (6.5inches x 3.25inches) to WR-62 Ku-band (0.622inches x 0.311inches) - approx 10x smaller in one dimension. So the L-band satellite waveguides are 10x bigger = more weight, and require significant satellite redesign.

              If the satellites don't use waveguides, and the idea is to use those already being built with modifications, they still need to be launched etc.

          3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            So, unless they can convert the satellite from Ku-band to L-band, then they cannot be configured to operate with existing GPS receivers.

            Not necessarily a problem given this is a defence project. And might be considered a Good Thing(tm) because it's a defence project.. So a bit like the 'problem' with Gallileo and having to be in the club to get access to the classified bits.. Even if the UK developed chunks of those. Plus a higher frequency/shorter wavelength could translate to higher accuracy using multiple satellites and/or interferometry.

            Without the report, then we cannot assess the validity of the claims.

            But it's a report concerning designing a classified system...

            Will the proposed system offer cm level accuracy, or be no better than GPS+WAAS ???

            Shorter wavelength could potentially offer mm level accuracy. See Ku band radars and survey kit for more info.

            Also, why would anyone pay 20% (£500million) to a company that has filed for bankruptcy ??

            Because the creditors want their money back, and currently they own the company. Plus there's potentially some value, ie rural broadband, partnering with Canada and other nations, having an ability to access capacity in remote locations for operations, so expand on Skynet's capacity. Plus a potential ability to launch additional satellites to cover areas of interest.

            I recall that the government were being told that they can introduce backdoors into encryption and they believed it was ok with no downsides

            Well, it's the government. Lawful interception and all that.

            1. Dr. Vagmeister

              The following link provided by someone lower down in the comments :

              https://www.gov.uk/government/news/space-sector-to-benefit-from-multi-million-pound-work-on-uk-alternative-to-galileo

              States that the system will be compatible with the US GPS system - hence will be L-Band.

          4. maffski

            'unless they can convert the satellite from Ku-band to L-band, then they cannot be configured to operate with existing GPS receivers.'

            Why would you want to do that? Do you expect billions of existing perfectly good GPS receivers to be updated to support an additional standard?

            There's no reason why these satellites can't provide navigation, comms (the British military currently buy commercial bandwidth I believe), and emergency location beacons.

            I don't think we need another GPS, but if you're going to do it you may as well get all the services you can.

            1. Peter2 Silver badge

              There's no reason why these satellites can't provide navigation, comms (the British military currently buy commercial bandwidth I believe), and emergency location beacons.

              The British military have their own satellites called SkyNet and so don't need to buy commercial bandwidth. Hollywood liked the name, but we had it first!

              The last generation of SkyNet satellites was bought on a PFI scheme under Labour when that was in fashion, which the military has developed a particular loathing for and want ditched so the satellites are going to get ditched at the end of contract (~2022 IIRC) rather than at the end of operational life.

              Frankly, buying this system outright and running it inhouse could deliver something useful and it's certainly worth considering if things can be done this way.

              The traditional model has always held that launches cost billions and therefore satellites should be of an extremely high specification and lifetime to spread the launch cost over the operating lifetime. If you can cheaply throw a constellation of satellites up then the requirement for satellites to be built to a very, very high standard goes away because firstly you can launch fifty of them, and secondly instead of being in a geo orbit that takes 50k years to degrade you can simply design it to orbit at a low altitude and burn up in 10 years.

              The build quality then only needs to be something like "90% will last ten years" rather than "99.9999999999999% chance of lasting 30 years", which one assumes is somewhat cheaper to engineer. 10% failed after 10 years? Meh, still 45 of that batch working up until their planned de orbit time which is probably "good enough".

        6. Filippo

          Dude, the article does explain why it's not appropriate, very clearly. Wrong orbit, wrong clocks, wrong radios. Even if it could be repurposed, which isn't a given, it would do positioning very badly.

          On the other hand, you are not attempting to counter ANY of the technical points the article makes - and no, "you should assume the government must know better" is not a counter, unless you actually show how and why.

          Basically, you're ignoring the technical level entirely, and attempting to move the discussion to the political level alone. You're essentially doing exactly what you accuse the author of doing.

          You've been using this strategy fairly consistently across multiple threads. Don't act surprised if you get labelled as a troll and ignored. I'm definitely ignoring you going forwards, and I'm certain you are not going to get any enlightenment from this post, but I figure pointing out exactly how you're being dishonest might be interesting for someone else.

          1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            > "you are not attempting to counter ANY of the technical points the article makes"

            If I was qualified to do that I wouldn't be asking for journalists to explain things to me.

            As it stands I'm asking questions that I think the article should have answered. Fortunately, the reply from Phil O'Sophical below, points out that it's only El Reg who chose to make this a political hit piece rather than giving its readers insight.

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge
              Trollface

              It doesn't matter how many times you say the article doesn't state way, the article does actually state why.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Wrong orbit, wrong clocks, wrong radios.

            But only 12% launched so far, so clocks & radios are very changeable.

            Even if it could be repurposed, which isn't a given, it would do positioning very badly.

            Why is why it's being considered primarily for comms & broadband, with positioning a purely speculative application.

            1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

              "

              But only 12% launched so far, so clocks & radios are very changeable.

              "

              Far cheaper & quicker to make & launch from scratch than make changes to satellites already in orbit. You can't just send a guy in a van to swap out a couple of equipment racks.

            2. doublelayer Silver badge

              Original: "Wrong orbit, wrong clocks, wrong radios."

              Reply: "But only 12% launched so far, so clocks & radios are very changeable."

              If they're going to design completely new satellites that work now, they don't need to pay this company; they just do the design and launching. The only reason to pay this company is to use what they already have, possibly augmenting it with additional launches for that constellation. They're not going to buy this company just to do something they could already do.

              Original: "Even if it could be repurposed, which isn't a given, it would do positioning very badly."

              Reply: "Why is why it's being considered primarily for comms & broadband, with positioning a purely speculative application."

              It was discussed as a replacement for Galileo. Navigation system. It might be useful for other things, but the U.K.'s stated interest is for navigation. Maybe they know what to do to make it do navigation, but if they considered buying it for communications purposes, it would have been better for them to say that rather than call it an alternative to Galileo. It's not hard to type "For increased communications potential. The system may also be of secondary use in a proposed navigation system". They could have if they meant that.

          3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            You forget that the government *makes* the law. So it can alter the laws of physics to be whatever suits it best. And even if the laws of physics do not really change, the government simply uses a spin-doctor to convince 99% of the population that they have. Closing schools and having an uneducated population is a good way to ensure that this tactic works.

            Meanwhile in another plan, our care homes are being repurposed to supply food as well as being places to dump our unwanted and unproductive elderly citizens. Based on the name it's probably soya based. I understand it will be called "Soylent green"

        7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "Government Tory therefore government stupid."

          I'm instinctively conservative - with a small c. But this particular government is formed out of a clique that took over the Conservative party. They've shoved out anybody who showed an inclination to do details and rely on rhetoric and Dunning-Kruger powered hubris.

          Gove made comments, aimed at the Civil Service, about group-think. He and the rest of the present government need a mirror.

        8. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Socialism the most deadly ideology in the world?

          Tell that to the millions in the US without health insurance.... But don't use the socialist Internet with it's socialist open source projects to do it.

          Instead, boomer, why not write a strongly worded letter of complaint to the Daily Mail, or call Fox News - they are your more usual platforms.

          At least you were being honest with your username.

          1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            Boomer? Grow up you child.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              OK, boomer.

          2. MarkTriumphant

            Many of us here *are* boomers, and that does not mean that we disagree with you. Please don't use that, as it puts me in the same box as disgustedoftunbridgewells, which I think would be shit.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Apologies, I didn't mean to do that to you!

              I use the phrase more based on attitude than age.. I wouldn't call Bernie Sanders a boomer, only those that are stereotypical boomers, like disgustedoftunbridgewells!

        9. Chris G Silver badge

          "Government Tory" ?

          What makes you think the reaction would have been if a beLabour government had suggested the same?

          I doubt it would be much different.

          I am sure it's possible calculate position based on a signal from any three Sat's if their positions are knownbecause it is fairly basic maths but that us nothing like using a constellation of dedicated satellites built for the job, I know feck all about how to go about repurposing internet sat's to GPS and I suspect Mr DC knows even less.

          1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            > What makes you think the reaction would have been if a beLabour government had suggested the same?

            Because of Brexit, pretty much the entire press ( including El Reg ) is foaming at the mouth at anything to do with the Conservative party, especially now Corbyn isn't there to act as a lightning rod for the Tories.

            Labour would get a free pass under Starmer - it would be a wonderfully innovative idea.

            Also, it turns out that the investment is to use the satellites for rural broadband with future satellites potentially being repurposed for positioning or dual use.

            However it may well be possible to get an approximate location from lots of unsuitable satellites which would make it more resilient against attack.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              You can bet your life that if Labour (or anyone else) was in power, and made the same mistakes, El Reg, I, and most of the critical posters here would be posting exactly the same comments.

              It's due to be able to think for ourselves, and analyse the information.

              It's very simplistic and dangerous to consider politics a "team sport". It happens too often in the US, unfortunately, and it appears to be your mentallity too.

            2. Stork Silver badge

              You must get different websites than me. The Telegraph seems to be a Boris fanzine, Mail is not terribly critical, but it does appear that the Times is not impressed all the time

          2. vtcodger Silver badge

            I am sure it's possible calculate position based on a signal from any three Sat's

            Four, I believe -- you're working in three dimensions. But it's early here and I'm not as smart as I thought I was in the 1960s when I actually knew a little about some satellites. Anyway, I think that "all" that is needed in concept is a bunch of satellites with extraordinarily accurate clocks on board, a tracking network that can keep track of their positions with very great precision. And an impressive amount of money. That'll get you position determination within a few tens of meters. Good enough to get you or your vehicle from place to place. For precision much greater than that I believe one needs reference stations that can be used to compute very accurate current ionospheric and tropospheric delays for each satellite. Or perhaps other clever gadgetry. Lots of very smart people have spent a lot of time and effort figuring out how to do satellite position determination. I'm not one of them.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Typically 3 are enough if you make the extra assumption that you are below their orbit and above the ground

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "I am sure it's possible calculate position based on a signal from any three Sat's if their positions are knownbecause it is fairly basic maths"

            The calculation requires very accurate timing signals from the atomic clocks in the satellites. The atomic clocks that navigation satellites have.

          4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            "

            I am sure it's possible calculate position based on a signal from any three Sat's if their positions are known

            "

            Only by measuring doppler shift over a significant time. It's how the first transit satellite navigation system worked, needing to track a satellite for around 20 minutes before being able to fix your average position over that time. Real-time positioning is only possible if you have a very accurate timing signal coming from each satellite.

        10. tfb Silver badge

          Not at all: government stupid because government stupid. A Corbyn government would likely have been just as stupid.

        11. gskr
          Facepalm

          "the possibility that the government has considered this after consulting experts in the field and may have ideas beyond the obvious"

          experts?

          Haven't the British public had enough of experts?

          So therefore our great bald headed bespectacled leader and his floppy haired puppet have patriotically started purging the civil service of those overrated doomsayer "experts", to be replaced with proper flag waving yes-men - sorry I mean true patriots of course. Advisers who will happily endorse whatever ideas our leadership propose.

          I mean when even Theresa May publicly calls the government out on this (re David Frost's appointment as security adviser) its not even trying to be subtle.

          Still will of the people and all that

          Rule Britannia!

          1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            As you definitely know by now, the "experts" Gove was talking about was experts in the dismal science - that is economic experts with all the predictive power of Mystic Meg.

            I don't know why you people keep repeating that experts thing as though what you're claiming is true - don't you feel a little dishonest when you intentionally lie?

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              @disgustedoftunbridgewells

              "I don't know why you people keep repeating that experts thing as though what you're claiming is true - don't you feel a little dishonest when you intentionally lie?"

              I dont think they are lying when they say it. Its like when they misquote Thatcher about there being no such thing as society. I think these people truly believe what they are saying is the truth because they are either too stupid to understand the context or unwilling to verify what was actually said.

      2. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

        Is it "Hammer Time" yet?

        (aaaw, I thought it was always Hammer Time)

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. oiseau Silver badge
      Facepalm

      What a shame. An opportunity to write something interesting ...

      Really?

      O.

    4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      to make room for a tedious anti-government rant.

      Not anti-government, just anti-Brexit. The remoaners (and this article is a perfect example of why that is the appropriate term) just can't resist the chance to take half a story, twist the juicy bits, and spit out yet more BS about why they were right and everyone else was wrong.

      Some of the other articles on the subject are a bit more accurate,such as:

      "In a letter to Downing Street, OneWeb is understood to have offered to move its entire operations from Florida to Britain. Ministers were told that transforming the business into a UK-centric operation could address ongoing security concerns about Britain’s telecoms network and deliver on the Government’s pledge to bring faster broadband to rural areas by 2025.", with repurposing yet-to-be launched satellites for GNSS use just a "maybe" speculation. OK, so it's playing the "national security" card to get cash, but wouldn't you try it on if the alternative were bankruptcy? The UK is considering chipping in as part of a bid, to rescue a UK business and get some general satellite functionality.

      As others have said, what about some real journalism, investigating the facts of this, and the "£92m report'? The "buy OneWeb and use it for SatNav" seems to have been a joke dreamed up in a pub that various gullible anti-Brexit reporters have swallowed, hook line & sinker.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        the Government’s pledge to bring faster broadband to rural areas by 2025

        You can keep fibre in the air merely by nailing it to a pole.

        Government is really quite simple - decide what you want to achieve and find the most effective way of delivering it. The reason we have a succession of terrible governments is that they start from the position that they have some dodgy mates and a garage full of bankrupt stock and then look for some sort of "policy" for which that might be an advantage.

        1. Greybearded old scrote

          That's rather like saying that having a long life is as simple as not dying.

          I have no doubt whatever that I wouldn't be up to the job. The visible evidence suggests that nor are our current leaders, sadly.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "find the most effective way of delivering it"

          It sounds easy if you say it quickly enough.

          Actually there's also the problem of finding the money to do it. And the additional problem that about half the country don't want you to do it and you hope enough of them are going to have to vote the next time round. And the overriding problem as to whether what you decide you want to do will prove to have been a good idea when it confronts reality and the law of unintended consequences.

          But, apart from that, simple.

        3. DJO Silver badge

          "Government pledge"

          Ha-fucking-ha.

          The current government has failed to keep a single promise or pledge.

          It's the tried and tested "Tory way", make a big announcement and get lots of favourable press from their tame poodles at the Mail, Telegraph, Sun etc, Blow a few million to a tame "consultant" who will tell them exactly what they wanted to hear and then do absolutely nothing.

          Anybody remember "The Great Nothern Forest"? £13m to a consultant and then, fuck all.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        @phil, for one talking about people moaning, you do moan a lot.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          @phil, for one talking about people moaning, you do moan a lot.

          I do, it's true. I get irritated at people who believe all the crap in a puff piece without bothering to check the detailed claims, just because they're still annoyed about 3-year-old decision that they didn't like. When did the UK become such a nation of whining doommongers, happier to run down everything it does instead of putting some effort into making it succeed? You're beginning to make the French and Italians look like optimists!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "When did the UK become such a nation of whining doommongers, happier to run down everything it does instead of putting some effort into making it succeed?"

            Somewhen around the End of the Empire, according to Sir Humphrey. International diplomacy ruined everything.

  4. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

    Brexit sat-nav eh?

    So it'll tell you you're going to one location when in fact you're heading in completely another; will lie about toll roads (they don't exist, no really you won't have to pay a thing); will claim the journey you're about to undertake it the easiest, most straightforward journey in the history of journeys despite it then being horrific; swear it will only take you to quality food outlets which you later find only sell chlorinated chicken, before directing you to drive straight of the edge of a cliff.

    All via Barnards Castle, obviously.

    Sounds amazing.

    And yes I know this is supposed to be about satellites not the driving units. Thank you in advance to those of you for pointing that out.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Brexit sat-nav eh?

      When you wrote that, did you think "this is edgy stuff, nobody has thought of these jokes before"?

      1. Bloodbeastterror

        Re: Brexit sat-nav eh?

        @disgustedoftunbridgewells

        I repeat, stop digging, FFS. You're embarrassing yourself.

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Brexit sat-nav eh?

          Oh I'm sorry, I forgot to laugh at the hilarious and original joke about Barnard Castle.

          Mines the one with the list of prepared jokes in the pocket.

          1. John H Woods Silver badge

            Re: Brexit sat-nav eh?

            "Mines the one with the list of prepared jokes in the pocket."

            Ah yes, I thought you must have left it in the cloakroom

          2. Dave K Silver badge

            Re: Brexit sat-nav eh?

            No, yours is the jacket devoid of any jokes or common sense. In fact, white is quite an appropriate colour come to think of it...

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Brexit sat-nav eh?

            I forgot to laugh at the hilarious and original joke about Barnard Castle.

            Don't worry, we'll laugh at Dom for you.

      2. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

        Re: Brexit sat-nav eh?

        When you wrote that, did you think "this is edgy stuff, nobody has thought of these jokes before"?

        Every joke has been done before, one way or another, it doesn't stop things bringing a little light relief to someones day. People have been taking the piss of the government of the day for decades if not longer. In that time many have been done about travel of officials, elected or otherwise. There's no such thing as a new joke, only new actors in the situation.

        On another subject, is this what retirement looks like? A quick browse of your profile shows 14 posts in the last day or so (at the time of writing) so I have to ask, do you really have so little to do with your time that you're constantly scouring the reg for things you can get annoyed at? I mean seriously, try some herbal tea and get yourself a nice hobby which gets you outdoors a bit. I find myself genuinely concerned for your well-being. You keep on getting this angry at entirely inconsequential things (for that's what comments on an internet news article are after all) you're going to give yourself a heart attack or something.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Brexit sat-nav eh?

          The geezer is from Kent.

          Kent used to be spelt with a 'U' before it was spelt with an 'E'.

          1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            Re: Brexit sat-nav eh?

            Is Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Brexit sat-nav eh?

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Tunbridge_Wells

              Tis in Kent.

        2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: Brexit sat-nav eh?

          > Every joke has been done before, one way or another, it doesn't stop things bringing a little light relief to someone's day.

          Yes, I agree. But when a joke is obvious and has been seen dozens of times in the past month then perhaps it's worth biting your tongue.

          Surely you are bored of Barnard Castle jokes? When I hear it it reminds me of the way politicians shoe horn their catchphrases in to any situation. It is the most tedious thing a person could possibly say at the moment.

          > On another subject, is this what retirement looks like?

          I'm not remotely retired. I'm at work having a little break and I accidentally got sucked in.

          My problem is the appalling coverage the press has been giving to all things government to the point where I and a large proportion of the population now reflexively assume that anything in the press that is negative about the government probably isn't true.

          I posted my original post as a bit of a moan ( this article is rubbish, give us an interesting take on it ), partly just moaning, partly hoping people would reply with something interesting. Why not speculate on other potential uses, for example? Or how it could work even though it looks like it perhaps shouldn't.

          I have seen interesting replies taking from sources that were interested in covering the story rather than lazily attacking the government.

          I've had some terrible replies too from people with no intellectual curiosity who want me to shut up because I'm not just agreeing with whoever is currently attacking the government. Why not discuss the potentially interesting aspects of the thing. Why not just assume that there might be some good that may come from it rather than hoping it will be a disaster?

          ( If you are genuinely enquiring about my wellbeing then thank you but I'm fine. I'm not as angry as a snapshot of my rushed El Reg posts may suggest )

          1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

            Re: Re: Brexit sat-nav eh?

            "My problem is the appalling coverage the press has been giving to all things government to the point where I and a large proportion of the population now reflexively assume that anything in the press that is negative about the government probably isn't true."

            I'm afraid to tell you that it really is that bad. We're not going to sugarcoat it. If we let things slide, they become the norm.

            C.

  5. steamnut

    Why Galileo?

    It's easy to say that losing access to Galileo is a problem but, Galileo is not finished and not 100% operational and, what is working, has had some spectacular outages. We have access to the US GPS system and most of us get by with what that offers. Leaving the EU will not stop our GPS clocks, TomTom's and Android phones from guiding us to B&Q so what is the problem?

    1. Adair Silver badge

      Re: Why Galileo?

      Ummm, why then are we spending/wasting millions/billions on reinventing the satnav wheel?

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: Why Galileo?

        Can you guess why we are excluded from Galileo?

        One country insisted that only members of the EU should be allowed full access.

        No prizes for guessing which country.

      2. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Why Galileo?

        @Adair

        "Ummm, why then are we spending/wasting millions/billions on reinventing the satnav wheel?"

        Actually that is the question that should be asked. While the article has little content in it at least it does comment toward the end- "sign up for one of the existing systems".

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Coat

          "why then are we spending/wasting millions/billions on reinventing the satnav wheel?""

          Because Dominic Cummins told the Johnson to of course.

          Obvious really. *

          *I think the British PM deserves the singular pronoun in future. After all he's not just any johnson, he's the johnson.

    2. Greybearded old scrote

      Re: Why Galileo?

      TomToms, Android and B&Q aren't the point. They are a side benefit of enhancing the armed forces' ability to deliver rapid planned disassembly as precisely as possible.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Why Galileo?

        And how will Galileo and/or BritGPS change that, given that Mil Procurement takes decades and that no doubt BAE and their ilk will add several million to the base price if we want to support multiple GPS-like systems.

        And just how much does military bang gear rely on GPS-a-likes anyway? Presumably they all have alternative redundancy built in like Inertial navigation etc etc. Put a £ price tag on it - that then gives us the ROI and business case.

        Galileo was EU-level nationalistic willy waving. BritGPS is worse if only because our pockets can't cash what our false brexit pride wants us to have.

        A fail for your comment and a fail on the whole sorry subject.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Why Galileo?

          >Galileo was EU-level nationalistic willy waving.

          Right up to the point where the USA got a president who wants to pull out of the UN, says NATO is finished and launches trade wars with its allies.

          You don't think he would be willing to turn off GPS over europe if somebody French was mean to him at the next G7 ?

    3. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Why Galileo?

      It's the out-of-the-ordinary usage that's affected.

      GPS is available to all - to a certain resolution and on a one-way basis (i.e. you can recieve "your location" but you can't talk back to the satellites).

      UNLESS you pay for the military, commercial shipping, aviation, etc. services offered by the same network. Which are more accurate, have other features, etc. etc. etc.

      Same for Galileo - I have it here, now, in my phone, receiving my location literally as I speak. That can't / won't go away.

      But the commercial element, the highly-accurate, military, etc. services won't be available to us because we signed a deal that said "EU members get these features" and we're no longer an EU member.

      P.S. Galileo is not officially in full service but is already providing a better signal than GPS. They've had one outage of any substance. Which is amazing for a GNSS that's not even finished. But there are enough things in orbit, and the free services are already functional, that it's more than good enough for your satnav or phone to use.

      (All GNSS are the same - I don't pay the Chinese a penny, but I have Beidou. Or the Russians, but I have GLONASS. What I don't have are things like the emergency, military, etc. systems which I would have to pay for).

      It's nothing to do with "satnav". That's literally a freebie that everyone in the world gets thrown in. It's all those other extra-added-value services that we're locked out of and don't want to pay the EU again for (which is kinda right... we did pay to put most of them in... we just need better contract drafting lawyers!).

      1. AdamT

        Re: Why Galileo?

        I've a recollection that we (the UK) had very good drafting lawyers and they wrote the bit about having to be full members to be able to access the full benefits, which the UK was very insistent on. Perhaps we should knock some points off for not considering that in the future we would take ourselves out of full membership and lose the full benefits. But on the other hand we should definitely award points for the fact that there was no way round that rule because we had written it so well!

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Why Galileo?

        "we just need better contract drafting lawyers!"

        I think the problem was that our contract drafting lawyers were too good. The ones who drafted the EU only clause at our behest when we were in the EU and didn't want those outside the EU to use what we'd paid for.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Why Galileo?

          "

          ... and didn't want those outside the EU to use what we'd paid for.

          "

          We willingly helped in the initial stages of development. It's like anything else - you won't be able to park in a "resident only" parking area if you move to a different home, no matter how much you may have spent on your old home.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £92m

    "the mighty British government swung into action, spending £92m for a report on what could be done."

    Been looking through Hansard, publications and other news sites and no mention of the £92m cost for the report (or the actual report). Where is the source of the £92m cost?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: £92m

      Following the links from the article, it seems to have originated on this .gov.uk page

      EDIT: Reading that page it appears the study is of 18 months duration, so if it really cost £92m thats 200 FTEs at £150/hr

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: £92m

        Thank you..

        Wow - where do I sign up for a gig for £92m for 18 months work?

        1. RuffianXion

          Re: £92m

          Eton

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: £92m

          Wow - where do I sign up for a gig for £92m for 18 months work?

          Try Crapita.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    " The saga of the UK's Brexit Satellite (BS)*

    *Obviously not what it will be called. "

    Oh, I think BS is exactly what it *will* be called....

  8. Admiral Grace Hopper
    Facepalm

    Could be worse

    At least nobody has tried to sell the current government a bridge. Oh, hold on ...

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Could be worse

      They are up to three at the moment

      * the Garden Bridge (abandoned without a bit of construction being attempted)

      * a bridge across the channel (proposed by Johnson, not mich heard since 'we' decided that the French were enemies again)

      * a Scotland - NI bridge (soon to be abandoned because of the cost of disposing of all the munitions careless dropped there after the 1st world war)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Could be worse

        "a Scotland - NI bridge"

        Which would still have been hung off the A75.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Could be worse

      They seem pretty keen on an air bridge right now.

      And I've got some tartan paint they might be interested in ...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    pop corn time !

    Pop corn sellers are in for a freaking blast !

    Watch how magical thinking is going to happen to UK politicians !!

    Send our own sats (what ? it's costly ?), use another country's system (how could they disable it ?), use bluetooth, it's the future, or WIFI, whatever :)

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: pop corn time !

      I am sure the blockchain will creep in.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: pop corn time !

        And I'm ure AI will also creep in; expect AI to magically resolve the resolution and accuracy issues.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: pop corn time !

      >>>Watch how magical thinking is going to happen to UK politicians !!

      Be fair. Cummings is more a pseudoscience and buzzword-bingo caller than a magical thinking aficionado.

      1. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Re: pop corn time !

        Has he ever been seen in the same room as Steve Bong? Enquiring minds need to know.

  10. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "quantum compass technology"

    Dear oh dear, what politicians won't do to make it look like they're doing something about something. Quantum compass technology, really. A cubic-meter sized contraption that uses lasers to super-cool atoms in order to detect movement in a single plane. That could conceivably be useful for a car, which generally only moves in one direction at a time, but I seriously doubt that a Twingo will have either the space or the power output to sustain laser-operated super-cooling just to get from place to place.

    And £95 million for a report ? Sounds like the guy who typed that up can retire right now.

    A UK-specific GPS system ? I honestly think you have better things to do at this time with what is left of your money. Besides, GPS units that work with the US and EU constellations will soon be available for £99.99, no subscription required. So why are you spending money you don't have on this pipe dream ?

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: "quantum compass technology"

      I have a normal, ordinary, Samsung phone that receives US GPS, GLONASS, Beidou and Galileo. Now. Today. 1m accuracy, to be upgraded to 1cm when the Galileo constellation officially "goes live", I believe.

      You can buy off-the-shelf chips with all four supported now, for pence.

      It's nothing to do with satnav/location finding. It's to do with the extra-added-functionality - military, search-and-rescue, two-way comms, encrypted authenticated GPS that can't be spoofed, etc.

      Galileo is free to use for you and I, and our TomTom. It's not that for which we paid millions to put into place, because we already have that. It's the other stuff that we *don't* have without reliance on the US and paying people lots of money.

      1. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: "quantum compass technology"

        It's the other stuff that we *don't* have without reliance on the US and paying people lots of money.

        Although... the weapons we have that rely on it are largely US made anyway. Supposedly we have control of Trident, but is anyone sure they can't just push an update on the F35 if they feel like it?

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: "quantum compass technology"

          Trident: "is guided using an inertial navigation system combined with a star tracker, and is not dependent on the American-run Global Positioning System (GPS)."

          It would be incredibly stupid to tie use of a nuclear deterrent to a couple of vulnerable satellites in publicly-announced orbits.

          1. ibmalone Silver badge

            Re: "quantum compass technology"

            The point I was making is actually that for at least some of these systems we are reliant on the US for things other than just GPS, and while making that point mentioned that Trident is likely one system that we can supposedly use independently of them. Which is almost the opposite of claiming we need GPS for Trident...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "quantum compass technology"

              " likely one system that we can supposedly use independently of them."

              I hate to spoil it to you but you can't. Foreign techno from Lockheed Martin. If the US want to disable it, they will.

          2. tfb Silver badge
            Alien

            Re: "quantum compass technology"

            I don't think it's about city-killer nukes or flat-out nuclear war. It's about fighting an enemy who can't kill your satellites (or, if they can, knows that you will then flatten them regardless) and being able to put some tactical weapon on a hardened target with extreme accuracy, or hitting an individual with a missile from far away. The sort of wars that the US has fought quite a lot of, in fact, and the sort of attacks they've done lots of.

        2. MrBanana

          Re: "quantum compass technology"

          I'm thinking that for a Trident nuclear missile, it doesn't much matter if you have 1cm resolution, 1m resolution, or.. heck 100m would probably do it.

        3. Mage Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Supposedly we have control of Trident

          The UK did have their own nuke tech and close to delivery with the rockets being tested at Woomera, but USA persuaded the UK to ditch both. The UK is the only nation in the world to give up Nuke Tech and Sat / ICBM tech. The Trident is really sort of rented. It and F35 involve a subscription service.

      2. tfb Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: "quantum compass technology"

        It's the high-accuracy stuff in fact I think. That may or may not be available to everyone normally, but in the event of bad things it becomes available only to people with the keys.

    2. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: "quantum compass technology"

      So here's the funny thing, Japan, a mid-latitude island nation, has its own small collection of satellites (4) to supplement GPS: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quasi-Zenith_Satellite_System

      Cost, approx £1.2B, more than buying up some random junk hoping it will work, less than £5B. That seems like an opportunity for a bit of knowledge exchange with Japan, who we keep saying we want trade deals with and whose satellites will always be the other side of the world from ours.

      We probably do have much more pressing things to spend our money on, but if anyone feels like paying me for another report...

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: "quantum compass technology"

        How much global coverage does Japan enjoy with those 4 satellites? How much do they make licensing the technology and access to the technology to other countries?

        The UK armed forces operate globally and will want Commonwealth nations and NATO partners to access and benefit from the technology too.

        1. ibmalone Silver badge

          Re: "quantum compass technology"

          Which NATO parties do we want to benefit from them? The US? European countries? They've got their own, leaving, apart from a handful of small states, Canada and Turkey. I must say it's pretty altruistic of us to be building military infrastructure to give Turkey a global reach.

          The argument for a positioning system, particularly for splashing big sums of cash on it, usually relies also on the civilian navigation aspects, for which we only need UK coverage.

          1. Lee D Silver badge

            Re: "quantum compass technology"

            "The argument for a positioning system, particularly for splashing big sums of cash on it, usually relies also on the civilian navigation aspects, for which we only need UK coverage."

            And there are four/five independent, open, free, existing and around-in-the-future system which cover the entire world to that purpose. That's *not* why people keep putting up their own.

            And Switzerland literally paid for access to Galileo despite not being in the EU. They just paid, not very much in the grand scheme of things, and got the same as EU members. We refuse to. (And Switzerland helped build it, just like we did!).

            It's nothing to do with civilian navigation. All the networks literally give that away as a natural consequence of the technology. It's to do with the value-added features. Everything from search-and-rescue (your boat beacon literally talking to the satellites to announce its position, and receiving notification of help being on the way, which "civilian GPS " cannot do), military, greater accuracy (1cm), encryption, anti-spoofing, and uses for GPS that extend far beyond mere point location (geodesy).

            We literally get the civilian navigation NO MATTER WHAT. It's given away. We get it whether we are in Galileo or not. I literally have it now. That's *not* what the UK is trying to replace. The bit it is trying to replace is the literal reason that people pay GNSS manufacturers for the technology - the only thing of actual commercial/military/government value, the thing that's hard to do and costs a fortune, and the bit you don't want to give your enemies.

            And that's what we don't have, haven't bought, won't pay the EU for, and for which we bought a satellite system that literally isn't capable of that at this time (and likely never would be).

            This is not about your satnav or crashing your boat into the island you didn't see. That's literally just sitting there for us to use. It's about the things you'd use in times of war (encrypted, unspoofable signals, accurate enough to guide a missile - GPS shuts off above certain speeds/heights deliberately!, encrypted communication of a location back to a country [e.g. special forces requesting a pickup after being off the radar for weeks], etc.).

            The exact things we don't have, and have bought a system that doesn't do them.

            1. ibmalone Silver badge

              Re: "quantum compass technology"

              I think we're talking at cross purposes slightly, I was answering the "coverage over UK only" criticism of a scheme like Japan as justifying a full UK-GNSS. That would still be capable of the 'value added' facilities you mention (maybe I was lax in bundling things like search and rescue as 'civilian use', but I mean in opposition to military use), as would staying in Galileo (which would be sensible but insufficiently brexity).

              The one advantage having our own gives is it can't be turned off if we need it for defence purposes. If we had our own full global system then that would allow us to conduct operations across the globe even in the case where we'd fallen out with both the USA and EU... I think our forces might have other issues in that case. A smaller UK-overhead system would give the value added features, only missing the ability to conduct an overseas war that all our allies objected to.

              (Also, I think the missile shut-off is receiver based, it's not something building the constellation gets you control of, it's something fabbing your own chips gets you control of.)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "quantum compass technology"

          "The UK armed forces operate globally and will want Commonwealth nations and NATO partners to access and benefit from the technology too."

          Yes, without global coverage how will the UK armed forces get any birds in the air from HMS Queen Elizabeth or HMS Prince of Wales?!

          All together now....

          Rule Britannia! Britannia, rules the waves .... !

          (Or for the Queen Elizabeth's current batch of naval aviators, "Semper Fi !!!")

          1. First Light

            Re: "quantum compass technology"

            I suspect the UK Navy will be increasingly LESS global as time goes on.

            How is chain of command going to work with US Marines on Brit ships?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "quantum compass technology"

              "How is chain of command going to work with US Marines on Brit ships?"

              "Hey, Jack Tar, take us over there. We need to go bomb the shit out of that small country. USA! USA! USA ...!"

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "quantum compass technology"

            This is the real selling point: global coverage.

            If, like India, you don't give a flying fuck about having any operatives outside of your soil, and only want drivers to know where they're going, then you have a set of geostationary sats. Easy.

            At contrary, if you want global coverage, it's another dream. Expensive, difficult, and very costly ...

            As usual, the UK wants the top at the price of the bottom. Pop-corn ensues ...

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: "quantum compass technology"

        QZSS is intended to provide navigation in densely-populated cities. Japan has a lot of those. It also provides increased service throughout Japan and the surrounding ocean, but a lot of that is because QZSS works with GPS to provide extra information. If all the GPS satellites were to be shut off, QZSS would be difficult to use though theoretically possible. Presumably, the British military will want coverage over the U.K., the various bases in the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Indian ocean, and in areas where they have fought recently such as southern Asia. You can't do that with a few satellites. If they're willing to do U.K. and surrounding ocean only, they can do so more cheaply.

  11. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    A face-saving solution...

    We could surely "re-purpose" these satellites as a way of providing rural broadband. Or is our government not even capable of that?

    1. Greybearded old scrote

      Re: A face-saving solution...

      Capable, not interested.

      One of those Tory values I hinted at above can be summarised as, 'Nothing done for the public good, only for those already rich to profit further.'

      (My wording not theirs, obvs.)

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: A face-saving solution...

        I suspect their exact words, actually, so long as they're not being recorded.

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: A face-saving solution...

          So, spend £500M buying a share. Spend another couple of £B making it work. Then, because running broadband services is a job for corporations, not the public purse, flog it off to $friend for a few £M.

          Tory all the way.

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    £500m

    That's half of what Reaction Engines are being charged by BAe for a flight test vehicle despite

    a) HMG dragging their heels so long for the £60m loan they lent REL

    b) Insisting REL needed a "solid" airframe mfg with high speed aircraft experience

    c) BAe have a 20% equity stake in REL

    But as Don Corleone would tell them "It's just business."

    OneWeb as a stand in GPS sounds pretty retarded, and I didn't need £92 to work that out for myself.

    Much like Brexit really.

  13. Steve Todd

    These satellites have high precision atomic clocks on board?

    I highly doubt it. Without these you can’t pinpoint your location (and it was the enhanced precision of Galileo clocks that was mostly responsible for cm level accuracy. Block III GPS also has improved clocks for the same reason). You can’t bring these birds back from orbit and retrofit them. Where’s the value in buying a stake in something that doesn’t do what you need?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: These satellites have high precision atomic clocks on board?

      You can’t bring these birds back from orbit and retrofit them.

      No, but you can redesign the 90% of them that haven't been built or launched yet.

      1. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: These satellites have high precision atomic clocks on board?

        So, we could develop new GNSS satellites, build and launch them instead of the different satellites which they had already designed, but hadn't built and were planning to launch then? I'm failing to see the master-stroke in that move.

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: These satellites have high precision atomic clocks on board?

        "

        No, but you can redesign the 90% of them that haven't been built or launched yet.

        "

        But why buy a load of very expensive products that need to be completely redesigned and rebuilt? Surely it would be cheaper and faster to build from scratch?

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          Re: These satellites have high precision atomic clocks on board?

          "But why buy a load of very expensive products that need to be completely redesigned and rebuilt? Surely it would be cheaper and faster to build from scratch?"

          When you need to add a new feature to your software do you scratch build a new version?

          While I've been unsuccessful in finding out if they have an onboard clock, they are claiming a "modular design" so presumably we could add a clock module. Even if the design isn't modular, modifying it would likely be small beer compared to scratch designing a satellite - particularly given the British Goverment's penchant for mission creep and gold plating; I'd rather they start from a proven design than come up with a plan that sees us offering GPS coverage to our planned Mars base.

          (Also, because they are in LEO, they may not need such a high precision clock. Apparently they have 32ms latency so we might even be able to beam one to it from an earth station. TBH, you could probably reach up and touch them.)

          1. Dr. Vagmeister

            Re: These satellites have high precision atomic clocks on board?

            I am not sure about the receiver design, in that most are a single chip receiver in generic GPS based products.

            I recall (perhaps in error) that the receiver chip is hard coded to know where the satellites are (constellation in the sky) and from that with the timing signals, determine the location of the receiver.

            Does the GPS receiver have to know where the GPS satellites (MEO) are, and if so, how will the UK version using LEO's overcome this aspect ?

            1. drgeoff

              Re: These satellites have high precision atomic clocks on board?

              "I recall (perhaps in error) that the receiver chip is hard coded to know where the satellites are (constellation in the sky)".

              No perhaps. You are in error. Put "almanac data" into your chosen search engine.

              1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

                Re: These satellites have high precision atomic clocks on board?

                Exactly. Each satellite of a particular GPS system continuouly transmits the orbital data of all the satellites in the given system. The orbital data allows you to calculate the exact location of the satellite at any given time, past, present or future.

          2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: These satellites have high precision atomic clocks on board?

            "

            When you need to add a new feature to your software do you scratch build a new version?

            "

            Not if the new feature is an addition to software that has a similar function, no. But I would not contemplate buying some accounting software and then modifying it to become a video editor.

            I have a radio that is built using a "modular design". I would not use it as the basis for the design of a new car.

  14. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    This is good.

    They've bought a stake in a load of existing satellites, so all we need to do is retrofit GPS functionality to the sats currently in orbit.

    Can I suggest we re-start the El Reg space programme (sadly without our leader), and quickly develop a launch vehicle that can send Cummings into orbit (wearing a wet-suit and aqualung - should work, it's close to a space-suit) so that he can do the engineering.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is good.

      They've bought a stake in a load of existing satellites, so all we need to do is retrofit GPS functionality to the sats currently in orbit.

      No, they haven't.

      Did you actually read any of the information available on this subject, before your knee started jerking?

  15. John Jennings Bronze badge

    You are perhaps assuming that its going to be GPS in the traditional sense?

    The US military has already demonstrated taking GPS offline for its allies if it doesnt approve of some country messing with bombs somewhere it doesnt approve of.

    The UK would likely still use GPS as a first point of call.

    It might well be possible to repurpose the birds up there at the moment for a centimetre accurate GPS analog, with appropriate basestation timing/clocks, and some clever software. remember that Galleleo went offline when the local atomic clocks (to several sattelites) went squiffy. I would doubt that the oneweb birds have 4 atomic clocks onboard with the accuracy required .

    LEO is a lot cheaper to send birds up to than the orbits traditional GPS and analogues work at. Galleleo weights about 1000 KG fueled up if the sattelites are more relay than actual GPS sattelites. I think oneweb birds are around 200KG each?

    Galleleo, GPS and all the others receive on a specific frequency (around 400 MHz) which is used for SAR work. Its how EPRBS and PLBs work. THis chanel is internationally agreed. I doubt if existing oneweb can even receiver on this channel- so that would be out. Military could likely still use it.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: You are perhaps assuming that its going to be GPS in the traditional sense?

      So the GPS will only be of any use over the UK - streetmap.co.uk would be a lot cheaper. If you cant check the timing on the other satellites accurately you aint gonna get close compared to Galileo, I could be wrong but I cant see a use for an atomic clock for web relay/distribution so I doubt there is anything in them that can get you within a couple of meters on a good day so even for military use its not going to be much better than good inertial.

      1. John Jennings Bronze badge

        Re: You are perhaps assuming that its going to be GPS in the traditional sense?

        Yes, they dont have clocks.

        The GPS does not need to be global for the UKs purposes. It needs to be accurate where its interests are, and last I checked, that was a few islands in the Atlantic, and perhaps the Middle East.

        The Chinese nor Indian systems are not accurate outside their areas of interest - they are not global, while the satellites are covering everywhere. They make sure that enough satellites are overhead in their country at any time - they do not garentee coverage elsewhere in the world. I believe that india only plans to have 8 satellites - to cover an entire continent and 1000 miles round it.

        .

        Actually, GPS isnt particularly useful in the far north (above 70 degrees) or south because of satellite inclination- GLONASS is the only cm accurate one there.

        For the UK, satellites could be sychned from ground stations simmilar to the french DORIS system works - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DORIS_(geodesy)

        This can be used to calculate position data from a relay satelitte - accurate to 10 CM. The UK likely has enough ground station spread to be able to do similar with a relatively small constellation of LEO satellites.

        The main issue would be the radio bands used - I dont know if existing birds could be configured to talk on the appropriate frequencies.... meaning only useful for military...

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: You are perhaps assuming that its going to be GPS in the traditional sense?

          "The GPS does not need to be global for the UKs purposes. It needs to be accurate where its interests are, and last I checked, that was a few islands in the Atlantic, and perhaps the Middle East."

          Well, the U.K. itself of course. Then they have bases in the Caribbean and on the Falklands. They have some islands in the central Indian Ocean with naval bases on them, so there too. And two chunks they carved off Cyprus to put bases on. Oh, and they control Gibraltar so let's include both sides of the Mediterranean. Then wherever they will be fighting, and wherever they're planning to send ships or submarines. Oh, and there are Antarctic bases too. Don't know if they want their navigation system to cover those, but maybe. That's kind of a lot of the world's surface. Given that they send their ships to certain distant allies such as Australia, they may have cause to increase that still further.

          "The Chinese nor Indian systems are not accurate outside their areas of interest - they are not global,"

          Correct about India, not about China. China's system is intended to be worldwide, but they're not finished with it yet. Unsurprisingly, they started by getting good coverage in China, then expanded from there. Similar to Galileo, really, as that's not complete yet either.

          1. John Jennings Bronze badge

            Re: You are perhaps assuming that its going to be GPS in the traditional sense?

            Fair points - and thanks for the clarification re China.

            Fact is, though (and cutting through all the political discussion and rants), that having a bunch of sattelites up (with the right radios!) could likely be used, in conjunction with base stations to cover the key areas of interest - at least for military tech. Coupled with the rural broadband, it might even prove to be be a useful asset.

            LEO isnt ideal for a number of reasons mentioned before for navigation - but its not the end of the world if there are enough satellites up there and ground stations down here- I believe oneweb had an ultimate license for 48000 devices - though initial plans were for 1000, and there are only 68 operational ones at the moment.

            Thinking about it, even the Ku band radios might be useful in LEO for jamming and anti-jamming high jinx.

  16. Paul 33

    Bloody Good Idea

    Everyone seems to be completely missing the point.

    You do not need centimetre (I mean half-inch, bloody French measurements) levels of accuracy, you simply need to know whether you are in Blighty and safe, or Not In Blighty and likely to encounter potential immigrants.

    That is the Gammon Positioning System - GPS, also known as Farage (named after the modern day visionary, not after some foreign bean counter from before the Empire).

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Bloody Good Idea

      So a system that simply screams "you're in England" from a series of speakers mounted on pubs in Kent - while certainly accurate isn't very precise.

      1. Paul 33

        Re: Bloody Good Idea

        I'm sorry, at what point was "precise" in the specification for the Gammon Positioning System. Vague is the word you are looking for; the vaguer the better.

    2. First Light

      Re: Bloody Good Idea

      Does Blighty include Scotland, NI or Wales?

      I've never really been sure.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Bloody Good Idea

        >Does Blighty include Scotland, NI or Wales?

        Since Blighty is a term from the Indian army and, as we know, no Scots Welsh or Irish were involved in the British Empire - bad things being purely an English activity - then probably not

  17. Len Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Cut your cloth...

    I have little faith in this new OneWeb adventure. It feels too much like someone managed to get their own investment bailed out with tax payer's money because they happen to have some friends in government. I do, however, see a way forward for the UK to get to some level of independence on this.

    Firstly, as already mentioned, Galileo is Free-to-Air already and will remain that way for users in the UK regardless of Brexit. For most commercial applications requiring higher-than-GPS-precision (driverless cars, fully automated unloading of containers in ports etc.) that is good enough.

    Secondly, the high precision military element called PRS. Access to it is available for non-EU states (Switzerland is negotiating it as we speak) but that needs to be negotiated. The current Festival of Incompetence won't be able to secure that but a next government (once the chaos and name-calling has died down) should be able to negotiate access to PRS. There are two catches, the UK's decryption key for PRS can be revoked in case the UK were to ever become a military threat to the EU (Just like any EU country’s key can were they to be kicked out of the EU) so it doesn't deliver fully strategic independence. Also, the development work on the PRS system is never coming back to the UK, that can only legally be done within the EU. That's why CGI has sold the British division that used to work on Galileo to Thales, Airbus has moved the work to one of their labs on the continent and the Security Control Centre has moved from Swanwick to Madrid. I think we’re going to see more brain drain in Aerospace, particularly to Toulouse.

    What can be done? The UK military could develop a system that combines both GPS and Galileo (definitely the open element, perhaps at some point the PRS access) and strengthen that with a number of terrestrial masts across the UK to provide additional beacons. The latter method is not uncommon anyway to give ageing GPS a bit more accuracy. By combining effectively three sources the UK military could achieve both high precision and resilience.

    The only downside is that it can only be used for defending the island, not for strikes abroad (at least, you’d have to do without the terrestrial masts). But perhaps that is where the UK should now cut its cloth to its newfound size.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Cut your cloth...

      "a number of terrestrial masts across the UK to provide additional beacons"

      That won't be of much military use other than during UK-based training.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Cut your cloth...

        Unless you want to bomb Slough

  18. Mike Richards

    So if the UK spends on a 20% stake in OneWeb

    Who will own the other 80% of a piece of infrastructure with potential national security implications?

    Because I'm pretty sure the PRC/US/France would have no problem putting £4.5 billion into the system if only to spoil it for a rival.

  19. Mike Richards

    I'm not a rocket scientist

    Or even a satellite scientist.

    But does anyone have a clue how this *could* work? I'm assuming that OneWeb's satellites don't have the ultra-precise atomic clocks found in other navigation systems.

    Answers on the back of a fag packet to Number 10.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm not a rocket scientist

      I'm assuming that OneWeb's satellites don't have the ultra-precise atomic clocks found in other navigation systems

      And we all know the old canard about Ass U Me.

      Try google.

  20. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    Satellites are all the sexeh. No one in the gumint wants to use a boring ground based system...

    ...like, say eLoRaN. Which is ready to go, cheap and JUST AS ACCURATE as satellite systems.

    1. Greybearded old scrote

      Re: Satellites are all the sexeh. No one in the gumint wants to use a boring ground based system...

      That would be great locally, but no good for guiding the next invasion liberation.

      Personally I'd like that. A defence force that stays within reach of the ground based towers will live up to its name. (Also why I liked the naval engines that couldn't operate in warmer oceans.)

      1. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

        Re: Satellites are all the sexeh. No one in the gumint wants to use a boring ground based system...

        A country with a widely dispersed Commonwealth has to opportunity to create a global network. There's no need for monkeying about in space for the UK, except that's what politicians want.

    2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Satellites are all the sexeh. No one in the gumint wants to use a boring ground based system...

      "

      Which is ready to go, cheap and JUST AS ACCURATE as satellite systems.

      "

      Also works inside buildings and (some) tunnels.

  21. Conyn Curmudgeon

    Government does one thing extremely well, that is taking tax payer money and legitimately shoveling it in to their friends pockets. WE will probably end up with nothing in the end however someone with an inkjet printer and a calculator in their orangery should end up with a tidy retirement bonus.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    slapping the Union Jack on the side of OneWeb's birds

    well, recently, our PM's plane got a new splash of paint for a bargain price of 900K, and it's still flying, so - IT. CAN. BE. DONE. And to those Russia-sponsored commentards who claim it's a little different re. satellites, well, as you're sponsored by Russia this is the ultimate proof it CAN be done. Rule Britannia, rule the skies, Britons never will be... er.... humiliated by ugly facts, laws of physics and decisions of Eurocrats!

    p.s. Dominic told me we can also, real cheap he says, mount lasers on those satellites. That would be the ultimate proof of British superiority and dominance in 21st world, bring it on!

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: slapping the Union Jack on the side of OneWeb's birds

      Well, I wouldn't be surprised (though I don't want to know) if Boris wears Union Jack boxer shorts.

      And at the next Conservative Party Conference, whenever that may be, they'll no doubt sell knickers with Boris' mug on the front and a Union Jack at the back.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: slapping the Union Jack on the side of OneWeb's birds

      "p.s. Dominic told me we can also, real cheap he says, mount lasers on those satellites."

      Dominic Dare?

  23. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Ku-(ng)-FU Band

    Ku-Fuck Up again by the (HM) Government.

    I use the term "HM" with reluctance, as I do think the Queen may be somewhat embarrassed by the quality of "Her" Government

  24. Luiz Abdala Bronze badge
    Joke

    Finally WAZE WILL WORK!!!

    At last, Waze will work!

    Surely, it will have the bandwidth, and as long the satellites have something resembling a semi-accurate "clock" aboard, it can GPS pretty nicely, thank you.

    Perhaps you can add value to the GPS service, offering free TomTom updates™, android and carplay™ 4G and 5G?

    You can transform a hindrance into a cash cow, all of a sudden.

    See icon --->

  25. nagyeger

    sabre?

    Doesn't £93M buy you quite a bit of a sabre test-programme? Or am I hopelessly optimistic and mis-remembering my numbers.

  26. RegGuy1 Silver badge

    Can we not use the EU's?

    FFS, surely it's more sensible to tell the EU we'll rejoin so we can use theirs? After all these fucking Brexiter lot are clueless about where we want to go next, and in any case they have got caught out with COVID and have managed to bump off a good number of their voters[1].

    Presumably our new BS system is a Cummings idea. He must have read up about British Leyland while he was off his head on coke or something.

    [1] If you are over 65 you are more likely to vote Tory; must be some sort of brain defect that you get with age. :-(

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "and have managed to bump off a good number of their voter"

      Not even necessary.

      According to a Guardian piece by the head of YouGov given UK death rates and the profile of the Leave vote that majority had died off by about Jan 2019.

      History will probably record Brexit as a "perfect storm," where a cretinously weak PM, in a desperate attempt to keep his party together and in power (and for no other reason) allowed a gang of delusional Aholes and pocket-lining thieves a chance to use stolen personal data to pitch a total fantasy to a large group of desperate, unhappy and gullible people.

      Meanwhile sensible people thought the benefits of membership so self evident (Maybe they remembered what state the UK economy was really in before the UK joined in 1975. Maybe they had the critical thinking skills to spot the insane bu***hit the Leave campaign were spouting)

      they did not take the threat seriously, leaving Leave to peddle any lies they wanted through the Facebook lies, conspiracy theories, hate speech, mad ravings "news" feed.

  27. zb42

    a few more points

    The oneweb satellites, due to their low altitude, can stay in orbit for 5 to 7 years, then they would need replacing (if this ludicrous plan is attempted). Ok, Elon is doing cheap launches but it's still a large ongoing cost.

    The oldest operational GPS satellite is 23 years old and the reserve satellites are up to 27 years old.

    I very much doubt that they could get it to work in any useful way within the lifetime of the current satellites. Or several more batches.

    GPS generally needs to have three satellites in view in the sky.

    An FT article suggested that 80 satellites could be fitted with positioning equipment. The low orbit means that having three satellites in view would only happen now and again.

    I can't see any rich lunatics coming along to fund the other 80% of oneweb. Starlink is far ahead. Softbank has already wasted a couple of billion on Oneweb and decided not to continue.

    1. John Jennings Bronze badge

      Re: a few more points

      Um couple of bits, with respect

      the traditional GPS system used by the US is almost 1.5 tons in high orbit - designed for long life and really expensive per shot.

      The oneweb orbits at LEO, and has a much shorter life - true, but, there are potentially a lot more of them. There are 23 GPS sattelites operational or in reserve - Oneweb has 68 operational today - with proposals for a further 80 of them to be GPS enabled. That is a lot of redundancy.

      even in LEO, you would get at least 20+ satellites in coverage at any time - it would work better (most like), round towerblocks/skyscrapers etc.

      onewebs plans were for 1000 satellites - but had licenses for 48,000

      1. zb42

        Re: a few more points

        The Oneweb satellites are 750 miles up. GPS satellites are 12500 miles up. The footprint is much smaller.

        With 31 operational GPS satellites then from the earths surface a GPS receiver occasionally sees seven satellites at once.

        So your claim of 80 LEO satellites giving twenty in view seems obviously wrong to me but I'v never played Kerbal space program.

  28. bazza Silver badge

    Hmmmm

    From the article:

    That said, operating a navigation system in the Low Earth Orbit of OneWeb (rather than Medium Earth Orbit of something like Galileo) is feasible, although fiddling with the payloads of the existing spacecraft and dealing with the ground infrastructure is, at best, technically challenging.

    Anything “space” is technically challenging, especially if you want it to work reliably, but given that the UK has really quite a large and successful satellite industry we’re well equipped to do this. Tweaking a design seems to me to be no big deal.

    If that’s the only substantive objection to the idea, you can relax.

    And even if it delivers a UK specific assured GNSS and global comms solution that only the MoD bothers to use, £500mill is very cheap. Additional use beyond that, commercial or consumer, is added benefit.

    Having a significantly different design of GNSS compared to that of GPS might limit commercial take up, but it also changes the failure modes of the system; thus it could be a good backup to GPS. If it’s properly run (which Galileo isn’t), then there’s a whole bunch of people critically dependent on GNSS who’d be relieved to have a diverse alternative, and would likely pay (possibility benefits in kind) to access it.

    What seems to have been overlooked by many commentators so far is that we’re all critically dependent on a functional GNSS for our comms, economy; life without one gets pretty ugly pretty quickly, such is the level to which GNSS technologies have been integrated so many things. Putting a backup system in place is probably a wise move. Galileo is looking like it’s a dud long term, GLONASS is moribund and Russian, both are GPS clones vulnerable to the same failure modes as GPS, and the other smaller systems don’t cover Europe.

    Put it this way. Presently a whole shit load of really important stuff ultimately depends on GPS and GPS alone (Galileo being poorly assured) which, in case clarification is required, is available around to world purely at the gift of Donald Trump...

    Another aspect of this is that £500million to give the UK space industry (which I’m not part of) a big step up is very cheap. If it gets the UK into the habit of launching things for itself, there’s no telling what creative idea might spring up after Oneweb. That might prove far more valuable in the long run.

    Given that we are a nation of shed-based inventors, I’d say that it’s probably worth the bet. Especially as it’s small beer in the overall scheme of public finances.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmmm

      Good point about MOD comms. Wikipedia claims that the current contract for military communications satellites (Skynet-5) runs out in 2022. If they can use the Oneweb satellites for military comms then positioning can be sold as a cheap add-on using the existing infrastructure.

      Skynet-5 was a PFI project, so could be costly to extend. This may be a cheaper alternative. If the military were involved, then it could also explain why the official reasons for the investment sound so barmy.

      (Yes, we know about the name. They've been called Skynet since the sixties.)

      1. Lotaresco Silver badge

        Re: Hmmmm

        "They've been called Skynet since the sixties."

        The copyright holder - that may have been Skydance Media - sent a cease and desist notice to Paradigm/Airbus demanding that they stop using the "Skynet" name. Apparently a bit shocked to be told that they were infringing the MOD's intellectual property. I'm just sad that MOD didn't then sue them or issue a DMCA takedown for the entire Terminator franchise.

    2. notyetanotherid

      Re: Hmmmm

      Or £300 million or so for something like this - https://www.theregister.com/2019/02/20/uk_navigation_overlay_service/

  29. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    $500m buys you a *stake* in the *existing* satellites

    Nowhere near launching the full constellation.

    Now those new sats could carry a WAAS package to improve accuracy of GPS, but they won't replace it.

    Retarded idea still sound retarded (and a waste of taxpayers money).

  30. trevorde

    Brexit technology

    What's wrong with a brass sextant and clockwork chronometer? If it was good enough for Captain Cook, it's more that good enough for us!

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "What's wrong with a brass sextant and clockwork chronometer? "

      The perfect solution for the "Honorable Member for the 18th Century"

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: "What's wrong with a brass sextant and clockwork chronometer? "

        I have a feeling he would want to cover up the sextant making it useless.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: "What's wrong with a brass sextant and clockwork chronometer? "

          He'd certainly not stand for calling it a SEXtant!

  31. Lotaresco Silver badge

    Obvious things often don't seem obvious to politicians and their support staff

    I heard the announcement on Radio 4's "Today" programme. I say in slack-jawed yokel mode listening to it, thinking "What the actual..?" This was because I know "quite a bit" about OneWeb and know that key team members were dismissed at the time that OneWeb filed for Chapter 11. The concept is (was) a good one, the technical performance was excellent and at one point the launch schedule and satellite manufacture were ahead of Elon Musk's Starlink. The problem was that as soon as it was obvious that Covid-19 would result in an economic downturn the investors got cold feet and refused to pay for the next tranche of work.

    The reason that I was boggled by the government announcement was that it's obvious to anyone who understands the technology that a LEO satellite communications system depending on microsatellites cannot function as a positioning system. Also modifying the existing satellite design is unlikely. The satellite launcher is a dispenser design, closely matched to the size of the satellites. Change the satellite design and the dispenser may also need a redesign.

    If the intention is to operate this network for military comms then the locations of the ground stations becomes an issue. Some of them are in countries that won't permit military use. Some of them in countries that UK government would not choose for the location of a military comms hub.

    There are many issues to solve and the stated reasons for the purchase don't look credible, there would, as ever with government projects, be hidden costs and cost over runs. I can't even see how they could attract the OneWeb staff back, they are people whose skills are in demand and I think most of them are now settled elsewhere.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Obvious things often don't seem obvious to politicians and their support staff

      "it's obvious to anyone who understands the technology that a LEO satellite communications system depending on microsatellites cannot function as a positioning system."

      I don't understand the technology. Why is many small sats in LEO not able to function as a positioning system?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Obvious things often don't seem obvious to politicians and their support staff

        "Why is many small sats in LEO not able to function as a positioning system?"

        Dear downvoter. Can you please answer the question?

  32. xyz

    Look, they couldn't even cobble together a...

    COVID app so what makes anyone think they are going to come up with a working GPS system? Having worked at certain establishments, the only common factor in all the work undertaken is that it ends up a complete fuck up.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Look, they couldn't even cobble together a...

      If you mess up a government project, they pay you more to carry on fixing it.

      If you keep messing it up, nobody else will touch it so you have a guaranteed income for life.

      It's really just a case of following the money. Capita, Serco, etc. - all those places that supply such services operate on the same basis. Get the contract. Throw something out. Spin it down the road long enough that they have moved over and can't abandon it, then provide "fixes" for just slightly cheaper than it would cost to throw the whole thing out and start again. Guaranteed income for decades.

      Government Gateway, HMRC, DVLA, Universal benefits, the NHS, schools, all kinds - all in the same trap. And all kept there because certain government ministers can't write a get-out-clause in a contract, especially when they part-own the company in question.

      HS2 heading the same way. The NHS app.

      If you write something and it actually works, and is good, clean, transportable code, then they could go to ANYONE next year. Write a piece of junk and jam it in quick enough and you have a company income guaranteed for years to come.

  33. batfink Silver badge

    Who came up with the £5bn figure?

    I keep hearing that it will cost the UK £5bn for a Galileo replacement. That seems nice, as IIRC Galileo will eventually cost €20bn.

    I appreciate that we've already sunk a lot of cash into Galileo and can hopefully draw on some knowledge/technology from that work, but being able to do this for 1/4 the cost? Impressive!

    Or is the £5bn just for the initial study perhaps?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Who came up with the £5bn figure?

      Don't Surrey Satellite have a lot to do with building the Galileo sats? That's a lot of skills, equipment and manufacturing tools already in place. Not mention that building sats is something that the UK is actually quite good at. Launching them is another matter, but there are multiple launching options either available or coming on stream that are then doable at much cheaper rates than lofting 1.5 tons into high orbit. (that's assuming the modern technology can reduce the required size and weight and that it's possible to run a position constellation in LEO)

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "Don't Surrey Satellite have a lot to do with building the Galileo sats?"

        No.

        They built the initial test models (very cheaply and very quickly) and so BAe did what BAe do and bought them.

        SSL built the payloads (inclduing the atomic clocks) and OHB provided the bus, however that work is due to end within the next few years as the last sats are launched.

    2. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Who came up with the £5bn figure?

      Who knows. Galileo as a programme was fragmented due to various nations all wanting a piece of the pie. That's never efficient - N x personnel departments, N x overheads, N x learning curves, N x translations of the requirements documents, etc.

      We saw a result of this when Galileo was offline for a week a while back; the reports were masterfully obscure (a bad sign in its own right), but it seems there was a lot of flapping going on between the various parties involved.

      A single coherent programme for a new GNSS system ought to be a lot more efficient, and therefore cheaper. But you never know. We do have all the required expertise in country (even a launch capability soon it seems), and favourable locations around the world for ground stations. Properly marshalled, it ought to go well.

      Insert whatever caveats seem appropriate into the preceding text as necessary!

      Value for money? Well, that depends. This article https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12668230 9 years ago on the BBC paints a pretty grim picture of what would happen if GPS (or Galileo now) stopped working. The UK's share of that very large annual loss will only have grown in the last 9 years. Spending single digits billions to mitigate that risk seems well worthwhile, especially as Galileo's governance doesn't inspire confidence in it as a robust alternative regardless of our ejection (or rejoining) of it.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "Spending single digits billions to mitigate that risk seems well worthwhile, "

        What did you think Galileo was for?

        Note that the UK will not lose access to the signal.

        A properly designed receiver could use, GPS, Galille and the Russian system to ensure continuity of navigation data.

        What the UK has lost is the deep access to the security access (which the UK proposed under US prompting to keep the Chinese out).

        IOW this system makes no sense. It's just the deeply wounded pride of ministers who've are finally waking up how seriously the UK economy will be f**ked by Brexit. Turns out their actions will have consequences. Who knew?

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