Inside GNSS Media & Research

NOV-DEC 2017

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26 Inside GNSS N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 7 The EU stars came out for this year's European Space Week, a sprawling series of events in the charming city of Tallinn, under the aegis of the Estonian EU Presidency. Featured were a variety of workshops, conferences, ceremonies and information sessions. As a European flagship space program, Galileo was front and center throughout much of the proceedings. A t the lavish European Satellite Naviga- tion Competition Awards Ceremony, we caught up with Carlo des Dorides, general director of the European GNSS Agency (GSA), who updated us on the status of the much-anticipated Galileo Commercial Service (CS). "On the CS, we are dialoging extensively with EU member states, because there is a more and more consolidated view that there could be an advantage to providing the service for free," des Dorides said. For those who don't know, the CS, from its conception and now for many years, has always been described and planned for as a fee-based, revenue-generating service. Indeed, the revenues to be generated by the CS have been described as offsetting to a measurable degree to the overall investment in the Galileo system. Explaining the reasons for the shift, des Dorides said, "First and easiest, we believe that the induced value of provid- ing the service for free will be far higher than if we provide it on a paying basis. If we go back to studies that were performed about two years ago, and then we continue to look over the past two years, the esti- mated revenues coming from the use of the Commercial Service have been look- ing more and more 'thin'." Des Dorides said the GSA and the Commission see location and navigation technologies going in the direction of multi-system, multi-GNSS, which by itself will continue to provide better and bet- ter accuracy, ultimately limiting the draw of a fee- based high-accuracy system. "So, the expected revenues are shrinking," he said, "while on the other hand there is still the idea that Galileo can be the first mover to provide a high-accuracy service, but as a free service." "By high accuracy we mean around 20 centi- meters," des Dorides said, "not the 10 centimeters that you can find offered by various manufacturers in the market — these are different. We are talking about 20 centimeters with a convergence time on the order of five minutes, and you know that that 10 centimeter accuracy I mentioned comes with a 15-minute convergence time, so it's a different market." us, he said, an accuracy on the order of 20 centimeters, delivered for free, could represent a competitive advantage for Galileo vis-a-vis the other GNSS systems. "From the formal point of view," he added, "there is a regulation [EU Regulation governing Galileo and CS] that clearly states that this is to be a commercial service, so we need to be sure that there is a political consensus among all member states," because the regulation will have to be modified. And therein lies the matter. e EU member states, soon to number 27 without the UK, need to go along with this fundamentally new direction for the CS, and we all know by now just how time- and energy-consuming EU wrangling of this sort can be. But des Dorides says he is optimistic: "It is difficult to tell you when this debate will end," he said, "but I don't expect it to go for 12 months. I expect in the next two to three months a decision will be made." EU Credibility in the Balance? We also spoke to Philippe Jean, European Com- mission head of unit for Galileo legal and institu- tional aspects. He told essentially the same story, with some additional details, from the point of view of the Commission. "ere is a discussion that is taking place for the moment between the Commission and EU member states in order to fix the question of is the Com- Fundamental Rethink for Galileo Commercial Service PETER GUTIERREZ, Inside GNSS's European correspondent, is a senior reporter and editor based in Brussels, Belgium, who has written about Europe's GNSS programs for many years. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a M.S. degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. BRUSSELS VIEW Carlos de Dorides

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