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[infowar.de] U.S. Officials Cite Concerns about Planned European Satellite System
U.S. Officials Cite Concerns about Planned European Satellite System
(Say Galileo and GPS should be interoperable) (940)Mon, 4 Mar 2002
By Jim Fuller
Washington File Science Writer
Washington -- U.S. officials say the United States wants to cooperate
Europe to ensure a planned European satellite navigation system called
Galileo can operate without interference alongside a U.S. satellite
currently providing positioning information to users around the world.
Ralph Braibanti, director of the State Department's Space and Advanced
Technology Staff, and Scott Pace, deputy director at the White House
Office of Science and Technology Policy, said a U.S. delegation is
continuing talks with officials of the European Commission (EC) to reach
an agreement. The officials spoke during a digital video conference
with Spain on February 12.
Braibanti said it's true that the United States sees "no compelling
for Galileo because it is believed that the U.S. satellite-based
navigation system -- called the Global Positioning System (GPS) -- will
meet the needs of the global user community for the foreseeable future.
"But if Europe, for its own reasons, decides to go forward with Galileo,
we would be interested in cooperating with Europe to ensure that it is
interoperable with GPS," he said. "And to that end we have proposed an
agreement on GPS-Galileo cooperation.
"At this point ... it's too early to know whether a solid basis for
cooperation exists. That will only become clear as we move forward with
more detailed talks throughout the rest of the year."
GPS, a radio-navigation system formed from a constellation of 24
satellites and their ground stations, allows users to calculate
accurate to a matter of meters. Informational Web sites on GPS include
the following: http://www.igeb.gov (U.S. government management of GPS);
http://gpshome.ssc.nasa.gov (GPS applications around the world);
http://www.navcen.uscg.gov (U.S. Coast Guard information for civil
http://gps.losangeles.af.mil (latest developments by joint program
While originally intended for military applications, the U.S. government
made the system available for civilian use in the 1980s. The government
continues to operate, maintain and provide basic GPS signals worldwide,
free of user fees, and today the system is finding its way into cars,
boats, planes, construction equipment, farm machinery and even laptop
The Galileo project calls for designing, developing and launching a
network of 30 satellites that would reduce Europe's dependency on the
system. It is estimated Galileo would cost about $3.2 billion [$3,200
million] and provide Europe with its own system of radio navigation
beginning in 2008.
The United States, however, has raised a number of issues concerning the
way Galileo would operate. One issue is that the EC is considering
private funding as one way to generate revenue to help pay for Galileo.
"It's not immediately obvious why users in Europe or elsewhere would pay
voluntarily for Galileo services when they can get the GPS signals for
free," Braibanti said.
He said U.S. officials are concerned that European policy makers "may be
tempted" to mandate the use of Galileo or require its use for certain
purposes -- a situation that would not be beneficial for U.S. or
"It raises various kinds of potential trade-related issues that could
arise in the future," Braibanti said. "So we have been trying to
discourage mandating the use of Galileo in a way that would discriminate
Pace said, for example, that a user who has GPS on a boat or airplane
should be able to go to Europe and come back without being "required to
carry Galileo equipment when he can get the same performance from his
Braibanti said that users should be able to choose whether they want to
use the GPS signals, the Galileo signals, or a combination of the
"rather than being required by government regulations or standard
to do so."
Another concern is whether Galileo would interfere with GPS signals,
raises security issues. The U.S. Department of Defense recently wrote
the 15 European Union defense ministers expressing technical concerns
about where Galileo's frequency signals would be located.
Braibanti said that in some cases the location of frequencies could
interfere with GPS signals that are used by NATO countries, including
"This is a serious matter and ... we feel very strongly that there
be no harm or interference to GPS signals because that would pose risks
ourselves as well as our allies," he said.
Braibanti also emphasized that Galileo should be built in such a way
it doesn't degrade the signals received by civilian users of GPS.
A meeting of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in
in May 2000 authorized an increase in the number of frequencies that
be used for satellite radio navigation in general and for Galileo in
particular. Braibanti said that having separate frequency bands that do
not interfere with each other "would be a major step toward making sure
the two services were seamless and interoperable."
Pace said Galileo could go in one of two directions. One would lead to
satellite system that augments, complements and works with GPS to
"On the other hand, we can see ... where there would be attempts at
pricing and regulation and trade restrictions that would reduce benefits
for European consumers, and therefore reduce our own economic interests
Europe and around the world; where there could be restrictions and
that would hurt the security uses of GPS," Pace said.
"What we are trying to make sure of is that consumers get a choice, and
that our own security interests and those of our allies are not harmed,"
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
Dipl. Pol., wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter
HSFK Hessische Stiftung für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
PRIF Peace Research Institute Frankfurt
Leimenrode 29 60322 Frankfurt a/M Germany
Tel +49 (0)69 9591 0422 Fax +49 (0)69 5584 81
Mobil 0172 3196 006
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