Galileo Satellite System-Outage


The recent Galileo outage, caused by a technical incident related to its ground infrastructure, serves as a warning for the potential risks associated with relying solely on one GNSS system for positioning and timing services. 

Other GNSS systems, such as GPS and GLONASS, have also faced issues in the past. Galileo aims to provide a civilian, European alternative to US and Russian-controlled networks, and is set to become fully operational globally in 2020. 

However, the outage did not affect Galileo’s search and rescue function and devices were able to switch to GPS services while it was being fixed. The incident highlights the need to prepare for worst-case scenarios and consider backup systems.

A recent unforeseen issue faced by Europe from 11th July till 18th July was the Galileo’s Outage. The impact it had, could be caused to any GNSS like The US’s GPS, Russia’s GLONASS, etc.

These are all examples of GNSS system errors that had an impact on receivers and the people and systems that rely on them in the past.

  • In 2014, the Russian GLONASS system broadcast inaccurate location data for 10 hours, due to a faulty software update.
  • In 2016, GPS broadcast the wrong time for five hours after an old satellite was taken out of service, causing problems for cellular networks and digital broadcasters.
  •  In 2019, a known issue with the way week numbers are encoded in the GPS signal caused many unpatched receivers to behave erratically or stop working entirely – affecting devices and infrastructure from traffic lights to weather balloons.

Galileo – Outage:

Galileo has been providing positioning and timing services to around 400 million users since December 2016. 2020 is when Galileo will reach full operational capability. with a record precision of 20cm, Galileo will be the most precise satellite navigation system in the world.

Galileo is a civilian system under civilian control, which provides accurate positioning and timing information. Galileo aims to ensure Europe’s independence from other satellite navigation systems and its strategic autonomy in satellite navigation. Europe’s autonomy in this sector will boost the European job market, help the EU step up its role as a security and defence provider, and support emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, drones, automated mobility and the Internet of Things.

The European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) said the outage was caused by a “technical incident related to its ground infrastructure”.

Galileo has been in a pilot phase since December 2016 and devices that use its signal should be able to switch to GPS services while it is fixed. Fortunately, Europe had GPS to fall back on. If a similar outage were to take GPS offline, most devices would have no such alternative.

“The incident has led to a temporary interruption of the Galileo initial navigation and timing services,” the GSA said.

The network’s search and rescue function, which helps pinpoint boat crews or hikers in distress, is unaffected.

Galileo has 26 orbital satellites helping to pinpoint and track mobile telephone users and vehicles.

It is due to become fully operational around the globe next year, offering a civilian, European alternative to US and Russian-controlled networks.

Although controlled by a civilian agency, planners hope it will also underpin the strategic independence of future European military systems.

The Galileo’s outage is a warning or the wakeup call for all other GNSS systems that are in use to think about the worst possible scenario that might take place.

Team VAMOSYS have been into GPS business since 2014 and have good experience on GPS Vehicle Tracking, Fuel Monitoring, Fleet Management and GPS Tracker Devices. Writes article on various topics to share the industry experiences and knowledge.

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