— Half of all users of the encrypted signal to be included in ‘s future Galileo satellite navigation system likely will be military customers, with the other half made up of law enforcement agencies and emergency response services, according to a European Commission survey.
The survey also found that more than two-thirds of the prospective users of Galileo’s Public Regulated Service (PRS) either have or expect to have access to the military code of the U.S. GPS network.
The 18-month survey, which was just completed, was conducted for the Galileo Supervisory Authority, a European Commission body that oversees Galileo’s security-related applications.
PRS is the most highly encrypted and protected signal on Galileo, a system that is scheduled to be in service around 2014. Managed by the European Commission as a civil project, Galileo features an open signal available to anyone, a safety-of- life service, a subscription-based commercial service and PRS.
PRS remains a sensitive issue among some European governments because it threatens to undermine Galileo’s all-civil reputation, which some Galileo backers have used as a selling point in comparison to GPS; under policy, GPS is a dual- use system but it is financed by the U.S. Defense Department. Galileo is financed mainly by European Union transport ministries.
It remains unclear how much latitude each European national government will have in determining who gets PRS access. Some governments have clearly indicated they want their armed forces to be equipped; others have reserved judgment pending an assessment of costs.
The survey concluded that 4 million likely users of PRS could be identified today among European governments.
Presenting the results of the PRS survey here June 24 during a conference on Galileo applications, Olivier Crop, head of the security office at the Galileo Supervisory Authority, said PRS is seen by many as a helpful add-on to the GPS military code.
“Seventy percent of the global [PRS] user community are already using the GPS military service,” Crop said. “These customers want to complement GPS with PRS for improved jam resistance, service continuity and key-management knowledge.”
The government has given access to GPS military-level signals to its principal military allies, including NATO nations that are the biggest members of the European Union as well.
Like the GPS military signal, PRS will be distributed to select users, mainly government bodies, who will be given access codes. Managing these “keys” among 27 European Union governments will be a logistical challenge.
For civil customers who do not have access to the GPS military signal, the cost of access to PRS will be an important factor in determining the speed and extent of their deployment of Galileo PRS-enabled receivers. “If it’s more than a few hundred euros, it won’t be worthwhile,” Crop said. “Developing these receivers could be a challenge if costs aren’t kept down.”
Of the 25 European Union governments that took part in the survey, 18 said they would use PRS for all possible applications, military and civil. “The others are still waiting, for political reasons,” Crop said.
Pascal Campagne, chief executive of the FDC engineering consultancy, which has become a specialist in Galileo applications, said some European governments “are still hesitating” on PRS even though the satellite navigation environment is changing quickly.
By the time PRS is made available, GPS accuracy will be vastly improved, ‘s Glonass navigation constellation may have become fully available worldwide, and a Chinese system similar to GPS is likely to be on the way, Campagne said.
European governments have said PRS will be controlled strictly and not available outside . The European Commission notably has informed non-European Galileo partners, including , , that they will not be given access to PRS signals.
But it is not clear whether, for example, a European nation with access to PRS would be barred from equipping military equipment with PRS receivers as part of an approved export sale of arms if the selling government retains management of the key access. Also unclear is whether the U.S. Department of Defense would want access to PRS to reinforce the security of its GPS- equipped arms, or whether the same European governments with access to the GPS military code would bar such access.