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Europe’s version of GPS suffers major outage

Posted at 7:16 AM, Jul 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-15 10:02:16-04

A European satellite program that provides location data to smartphones and navigation systems is suffering a major outage.

Galileo, the European Union’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), is designed to rival the US-controlled Global Positioning System (GPS) and Russia’s GLONASS system.

Over the weekend, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) said that Galileo was suffering from a full system outage due to a “technical incident related to its ground infrastructure.”

“Experts are working to restore the situation as soon as possible. An Anomaly Review Board has been immediately set up to analyze the exact root cause and to implement recovery actions,” GSA said in a statement Sunday.

Issues with the system were first reported on Thursday.

Galileo was launched in 2016 in order to provide Europeans with more accurate and precise positioning information. It prides itself on being a sat-nav tech program that operates under civilian rather than military control.

As a result, the GSA says Galileo — which is run by the GSA, European Commission and the European Space Agency — provides “Europe and Europeans with independence and sovereignty.”

During the outage, smartphones that use Galileo including models from Apple, Samsung and Google will instead use data from American and Russian GPS networks.

While Galileo’s navigation and timing services are down, the GSA says its Galileo Search and Rescue service — which can accurately locate a distress beacon at sea or in mountains — is unaffected.

Currently, 22 satellites are in orbit as part of the Galileo constellation which is in an initial “pilot” phase. The system is expected to be fully operational by 2020.