EU's satellite navigation system, Galileo, goes live!

Created on Thursday, 15 December 2016

On 15 December 2016, Europe's satellite navigation system Galileo begins operating. Galileo will provide accurate positioning, navigation and timing services to all types of users worldwide. Galileo is fully interoperable with GPS, but will offer more accurate positioning for end users. The Galileo constellation currently consists of 18 satellites. The full constellation will comprise of a total of 30 satellites and is expected to be completed by 2020. This will gradually improve Galileo availability world-wide.

Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, responsible for the Energy Union, stated that: "Geo-localisation is at the heart of the ongoing digital revolution with new services that transform our daily lives. Galileo will increase geo-location precision ten-fold and enable the next generation of location-based technologies; such as autonomous cars, connected devices, or smart city services."

Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, added that: "Galileo is the result of a concerted effort to design and build the most accurate satellite navigation system in the world. It demonstrates the technological excellence of Europe, its know-how and its commitment to delivering space-based services and applications. No single European country could have done it alone."

Following the Declaration of Initial Services, Galileo will start delivering, with the assistance of GPS, the following services free of charge:

  1. Assistance to emergency operations: With the Search and Rescue Service (SAR), people placing a distress call from a Galileo-enabled beacon can now be found and rescued more quickly.
  2. Accurate navigation for citizens: The Galileo Open Service will offer a free market service for positioning and navigation which can be used by Galileo-enabled chips existing in smartphones or in car navigation systems. Some smartphones have already been introduced to the market and they can now provide more accurate positions. By 2018, Galileo-enabled systems will be incorporated in every new model of vehicle sold in Europe. This will allow enhanced navigation services to a range of devices as well as enabling the e-Call emergency response system.
  3. Time synchronisation for critical infrastructures: Galileo will provide more resilient time synchronisation of banking and financial transactions as well as telecommunications and energy distribution networks. This will help them operate more efficiently.
  4. Secure services for public authorities: Galileo will provide support to public authorities such as: civil protection services, humanitarian aid services, customs officers and the police via 'Public Regulated Service'. Galileo includes an encrypted service aimed to be used by government users during national emergencies or crisis situations in order to ensure continuity of services.


The full press release is available at: