The European Union is developing a satellite navigation system called Galileo that is expected to be more advanced more powerful and more reliable that the U.S –based global positioning system (GPS).
After several years of discussion and study the European Council agreed unanimously on March 26 to fund the $3 billion project.
European Commission President Romano Prodi said that the system would bring much-needed competition to the world of radionavigation which has been monopolized and controlled by American and Russian military authorities.
The system will provide a mass-market satellite positioning service available on two frequencies unencrypted and free of charge. A third frequency is planned but its implementation is still under discussion..
The development phase of the system will last until 2005 with a three-year deployment phase. The system is expected to be operational by the end of 2008. Galileo will be designed for civilian purposes such as telecommunication agriculture and navigation in cars as well as public sector work such as emergency services.
Though the system is planned to be compatible with. GPS the U.S. State Department expressed concern that it would interfere with GPS and that in case of war enemies could make use of the system.