FCC to vote on allowing US devices to use Galileo

October 25, 2018  - By
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The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will vote in November on whether to allow U.S. devices to access Galileo.

The Galileo Order is tentatively on the agenda for the Open Commission Meeting scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 15:

Galileo Order – The Commission will consider an Order that addresses waivers of certain satellite licensing requirements for receive-only earth stations operating with the Galileo Radionavigation-Satellite Service. (IB Docket No. 17-16)

“Enabling the Galileo system to work in concert with the U.S. GPS constellation should make GPS more precise, reliable and resilient for American consumers and businesses alike ,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

In 2015, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) submitted to the FCC a request from the European Commission to waive certain of the commission’s earth station licensing rules to permit non-federal U.S. receive-only earth stations to operate with Galileo.

The NTIA recommended grant of the requested waivers, and the International Bureau issued a Public Notice seeking comment on the potential public interest benefits and technical issues associated with the waiver request.

The FCC is proposing to waive its licensing requirements for non-federal operations with Galileo signals known as E1 and E5, subject to certain technical constraints, officials said.

The FCC includes conditions to ensure users of satellite-based positioning, navigation and timing services in the United States will benefit from Galileo signals. The systems are interoperable under a 2004 agreement.

Below is a summary of the order; the full text can be downloaded here.

  • Grant in part the request of the European Commission for waivers of certain of the Commission’s earth station licensing rules to permit non-federal U.S. receive-only earth stations to operate with specific signals of the Galileo GNSS without obtaining a license or grant of market access.
  • Find that the Galileo GNSS is uniquely situated as a foreign GNSS system with respect to the U.S. GPS, since the two systems are interoperable and radiofrequency compatible pursuant to the 2004 European Union/United States Galileo-GPS Agreement.
  • Find that there are significant public interest benefits associated with operations of non-federal U.S. receive-only earth stations with the Galileo GNSS, including increased availability, reliability, and resiliency of position, navigation, and timing services in the United States.
  • Grant the request for operations with the Galileo E1 signal, which is transmitted over the 1559-1591 MHz frequency band.
  • Grant the request, and a waiver of the non-federal portion of the U.S. Table of Frequency Allocations, for operations with the Galileo E5 signal, which is transmitted over the 1164-1219 MHz frequency band.
  • Deny the request for operations with the Galileo E6 signal, which is transmitted over the 1260-1300 MHz frequency band, since there is no federal or non-federal allocation for RNSS in the U.S. Table of Frequency Allocations in that band and grant of waiver could constrain our future spectrum management for non-federal operations in the U.S. in spectrum above 1300 MHz, where potential changes in the non-federal allocation are under consideration.

About the Author:


Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006, and also is editor of GPS World’s sister website, Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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