EU Member States have begun their independent testing of the most
accurate and secure signal broadcast by the four Galileo navigation
satellites in orbit.
Transmitted on two frequency bands with enhanced protection, the Public
Regulated Service (PRS) offers a highly accurate positioning and timing
service, with access strictly restricted to authorised users.
"Galileo is in its In-Orbit Validation phase, planned to include
experimental demonstrations of PRS capabilities in terms of positioning
and access control," explained Miguel Manteiga Bautista, heading ESA's
Galileo Security Office.
PRS access was initially considered for Galileo's Full Operational
Capability phase, but it has been enabled in 2013 in response to the
strong interest of Member States in this service. To allow early access
to PRS during the current phase, the European Commission and ESA began
the joint project 'PRS Participants To IOV' (PPTI) in July 2012.
ESA ensured the availability of several tools developed under ESA
contracts, including test receivers and other qualification equipment.
ESA also provided the critical knowhow and expertise required to conduct
these experimental campaigns.
ESA's PRS Laboratory, based at the Agency's ESTEC technical centre in
Noordwijk, the Netherlands, was used to provide training, demonstrations
and sample data.
"As a result, Belgium, France, Italy and the UK have now performed
independent PRS acquisition and positioning tests. In parallel, ESA,
through collaboration with Dutch and Italian authorities, is also
conducting PRS fixed and mobile validation in several locations in the
Netherlands and Italy," added Miguel Manteiga.
The PRS tests have demonstrated a current autonomous positioning
accuracy below 10 m when in the correct geometrical configuration. This
is an impressive result considering the small number of Galileo
satellites in orbit and the limited ground infrastructure so far
In the case of Italy, which has developed its own PRS receiver, the
tests have already confirmed the feasibility of independent PRS receiver
development and verification based on specifications provided by ESA.
"But the PPTI project is still ongoing in order to test more advanced
functionalities this coming autumn and to run the first aeronautical PRS
tests in collaboration with the Dutch authorities. Other Member States
have also expressed their willingness to join the IOV PRS
experimentation campaigns soon," concluded Miguel Manteiga.
The project is the first step to ensure the use of the PRS service as
soon as it is operational. It will be complemented by the PRS Pilot
Projects, focused on PRS applications, which are currently under
definition in a common effort between the EU Member States, the European
Commission, ESA and the European Global Navigation Satellite System
In addition to the qualification of the PRS service, these initiatives
will allow the timely availability of competitive PRS receivers in
Europe and the setting up of organisations in the Member States required
to handle PRS.
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