GSA: 40 percent of GNSS receivers are Galileo-ready

May 9, 2016  - By

60 percent support two or more constellations

Chipset and receiver manufacturers are already equipping their devices with multi-constellation capabilities, including Galileo, and taking advantage of available services, according to a new analysis by the European GNSS Agency (GSA).

The study examines the global top 31 companies and reviews publicly available technical documentation on their product portfolios, for more than 300 receivers, chipsets and modules available on the market. The parameters researched included such technical specifications as GNSS core constellation capabilities, space-based augmentation system (SBAS) capabilities and the market segments to which the manufacturers sell their products.

Each device is given equal weight in the results displayed here, regardless of whether it is a chipset or a receiver and no matter what its sales volume. The results should therefore be interpreted not as the distribution of constellations utilized by end-users, but rather the distribution of constellations available in a manufacturer’s offerings. Because some receiver models are used in more than one market segment, it is impossible to have a direct match between general analysis charts and segment charts.

Figure 1 shows the percentage of available receivers capable of tracking the various constellations. GPS is naturally present in all devices, followed by GLONASS. Galileo and BeiDou are progressively adopted by leading manufacturers.

Figure 1. Capability of GNSS receivers, all Segments.

Figure 1. Capability of GNSS receivers, all Segments.

Figure 2 shows the percentage of available receivers capable of tracking signals from one GNSS (that is, GPS only), two GNSS (in various combinations), three GNSS, or tracking signals from all constellations at the same time. The percentages add up to 100.

Figure 2. Supported constellation by receivers, all segments.

Figure 2. Supported constellation by receivers, all segments.

From this information, the GSA concludes that almost 60 percent of all available receivers, chipset and modules support a minimum of two constellations. Of these, nearly 40 percent are Galileo compatible. Furthermore, knowing that the top three providers of smartphone chips are on track to be Galileo compatible by the time Initial Services are declared later this year, the actual market share — this time taking into account the number of devices — is likely to be much higher than the 40 percent of Galileo-compatible models. The GSA states that this shows a multi-constellation capability including Galileo is becoming a standard feature across all market segments.

Market segments

Breaking down this level of Galileo compatibility further, the GSA found variations across different market sectors. In the high-precision market, used primarily for surveying and agriculture applications, all the leading brands have integrated Galileo into their products.

For example, in 2008 Septentrio launched a fully integrated industrial Galileo-capable GNSS receiver, followed 1.5 years later by a multi-frequency multi-constellation OEM platform for machine control and survey applications built on a new, Galileo-capable application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) tracking all Galileo signals and frequencies, called AsteRx3. Likewise, Javad GNSS‘ Triumph receivers track all satellite systems, including Galileo. Other companies in the high-precision market who have integrated Galileo into their products include NovAtel, Furuno, Leica Geosystems, ComNav, Trimble and Topcon.

Looking toward automotive and mass-market products in general, the integration of Galileo within the hardware is complete, although activation tends to remain pending, depending on the request of customer. Most companies serving this sector — including u-blox, STMicroelectronics, Broadcom, Qualcomm, Intel and Mediatek — have announced products that are Galileo-capable.

In regulated transport systems where safety and liability critical applications are key (for example, aviation, maritime and rail), the integration of Galileo signals tends to be slower. This is the result of integration being dependent on the updating of necessary standards and regulations, on top of the very long lifespan of these devices.

Supporting integration

To further increase the level of Galileo integration in all three of these market sectors, the GSA continues to work directly with chipset and receiver manufacturers, through technology workshops, sharing Galileo updates, co-marketing efforts, and dedicated funding for receiver development projects and studies.

The GSA also coordinated a comprehensive testing program in cooperation with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the European Space Agency (ESA). Over the past year, hundreds of tests and live in-field testing hours were conducted, verifying how different models integrate Galileo signals. This information allows manufacturers to update their technology and get the most out of the system’s increased accuracy and reliability within a multi-constellation environment.

The GSA also launched its Fundamental Elements program, a research and development funding mechanism supporting the development of chipsets and receivers. The program will run through 2020 and has a projected budget of 111.5 million euros. Its main objective is to facilitate the development of applications across different sectors of the economy and promote the development of such fundamental elements as Galileo-enabled chipsets and receivers.

The European Union’s Horizon 2020 research program, which aims to foster adoption of Galileo via content and application development, focuses on the integration of services provided by Galileo into devices and their commercialization. The Horizon 2020 third call for applications in satellite navigation-Galileo will open in November 2016, with a March 2017 deadline.

With a budget of approximately 100 million euros for the 2014–2020 period dedicated to Europoean GNSS applications, the program provides excellent opportunities for their development. The third call addresses concrete solutions and applications in the GNSS market and aims to support innovative applications, products, feasibility studies and market tests that have a substantial impact on European innovation, know-how and economy.

New ICD. The European Commission has published a new release of the Galileo Open Service Signal in Space Interface Control Document (OS SIS ICD v1.2). This document provides the information needed by receiver and chipset manufacturers, application developers and service providers to process and make use of the open signals generated by the Galileo satellites. In particular, the document specifies:

  • Galileo signal characteristics
  • characteristics of Galileo spreading codes
  • Galileo message structure
  • message data contents.

This latest version of the ICD is based on direct feedback from receiver manufacturers and other stakeholders.

The GSA is well advanced in developing the European GNSS Service Centre (GSC), which provides the single interface for information and help to users of the Galileo OS. Once fully developed, the GSC will operate on a 24/7 basis and offer a range of services, including hosting the Galileo User Helpdesk, providing the interfaces between the Galileo System and OS users, and hosting a center of expertise for OS service aspects.

“The analysis, testing, funding and knowledge sharing are all geared towards promoting the development of receiver technology — the key enabler for translating Galileo signals into useful services,” said Carlo des Dorides, GSA executive director. “As a result of this work, the GSA has paved the way for Galileo to be fully integrated into a new generation of receivers, and ensured its signals provide a wide array of innovative applications and services that directly benefit the end-user.”

Galileo Services, an industry consortium, offered this further perspective on the study. “We see that there is a strong interest from European industry to provide solutions for European GNSS applications globally,” said Gard Ueland, chairman. “An increased focus from European institutions leaves us optimistic for an increased presence of European players in the future. Notably, we see members of Galileo Services and OREGIN that already have or are developing receivers for a broad range of applications, in particular building on Galileo differentiators.”