A specialized agency of the European Union surveyed 25 EU governments and concluded that, led by national military forces, demand for the encrypted, jam-resistant service planned for ‘s Galileo satellite navigation system would total about 4 million users.
The survey by the European Union’s Global Navigation Satellite System Supervisory Authority found that the four nations with the most likely users of Galileo’s Public Regulated Service (PRS) are France, Germany, Italy and Britain, with 500,000 users each, according to Olivier Crop of the supervisory authority’s security office.
Surprised at the findings, ‘s Department for Transport conducted its own survey in and found just five users – not five agencies, but five people, according to Ann Sta, head of the Galileo department at the Department for Transport.
Asked to account for the discrepancy, Sta said the supervisory authority had asked vaguely worded questions about whether users would like an especially robust, reliable and encrypted signal available mainly to security and emergency-relief agencies.
“They really didn’t know what PRS was about,” Sta said. When the second poll was taken, the questions included references to the possible cost of PRS access, and the complications of key-encryption use. “When they found that out, they didn’t want it,” Sta said.
Crop declined to criticize the British survey and said its results would be used to refine preparations for PRS, which remains controversial in the British government because of its possible cost. Sta said British military forces do not want PRS.
The European Union’s executive commission is expected to decide this year on a policy for who will be able to access PRS, and under what conditions.
EtelkaBarsi-Pataki, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for Galileo, said March 5 that Galileo’s dual-use nature is in keeping with the evolving role of in world affairs. Since 2003, she said, European civilian, police and military forces have been deployed 20 times to manage crises outside of
Richard Peckham, business development manager at satellite builder and services provider Astrium , said the logistics of distributing encrypted keys to 27 European nations, each with its own set of users, will be daunting. He said the complexities of its use may make it impractical for emergency services.
Oscar Pozzobon, president of Qascom of Italy, which develops navigation hardware, agreed. “I am really looking forward to seeing how the key-distribution and re- keying issues will be managed with all these 4 million users,” he said.
Peckham said PRS is viewed by some in as “strongly French,” and that this might dissuade some governments from endorsing it.