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The System: Galileo ICD, Free at Last

May 1, 2010  - By

Galileo ICD, Free at Last

The European Commission (EC) has published an updated Galileo Open Service Signal-In-Space Interface Control Document (OS SIS ICD) giving technical specifications and performance expectations for the future system.

As reported by GPS World in October 2009, the EC will not charge for manufacturing licenses. No fees will be required for manufacturers to design, develop, make, or sell receivers capable of using the Galileo Open Service signal. Manufacturers are required to apply for the free licenses, which “will be provided on a non-discriminatory basis in accordance with European Union rules and international commitments.”

The SIS ICD, a 216-page, 4 MB PDF, is available.

To obtain a license, interested parties must e-mail to, “mentioning their request for a license agreement, which is without any exclusivity or geographical limitation.”

In a section addressing intellectual property rights (IPR), previously the stumbling block towards free-market manufacture and sale of Galileo receivers, the release states that “The information contained in the OS SIS ICD . . .  is subject to IPR. The use of [this] information . . .  including the spreading codes which are subject to IPR, is hereby allowed for research and development and/or standardisation purposes . . . “ and, in a later section regarding commercial use, “. . .  is hereby allowed for manufacturing, distribution, commercialisation, sale of electronic devices (e.g. chipsets and receivers) and supply of Value Added Services.”

Galileo Frequency Plan.


In mid-April, Intelsat announced it had lost control of its Galaxy 15 satellite that hosts the WAAS SBAS transponder used by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Shortly thereafter, the FAA announced that the satellite, one of two used by WAAS, would drift out of usable orbit within two to four weeks.

Once G-15 is out of usable orbit, WAAS will be disrupted for users in northwest Alaska. The rest of the WAAS service area — U.S., Canada, Mexico — will operate normally but will be reduced to a single point of failure with one WAAS broadcasting satellite remaining (PRN 138).

The FAA is investigating at least two alternatives:

  • Utilize Inmarsat 3 (POR) that was previously used by WAAS before switching to Galaxy 15 in 2006. POR is located at 178°E.
  • Accelerate the testing of Inmarsat 4-F3 (PRN 133). Testing is already in progress and due to be complete in December 2010. The FAA stated that there is “potential to implement as an emergency release.”

Neither solution is an immediate one. The FAA stated that integrating POR back into operational WAAS would take 12–16 months. The quickest solution is to accelerate the implementation of PRN 133; the FAA said it might be able to shave 1–2 months from original target date.

The FAA stated that with only a single WAAS GEO broadcasting satellite, users may experience a temporary loss of service 3-5 times this year for up to five minutes each while WAAS Uplink Station Switchovers occur.

GAGAN Tumbles.  A rocket carrying a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) satellite crashed into the Bay of Bengal, deaing a significant blow to India’s GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) program. The rocket was to deliver the two-ton GSAT-4, which hosted, among other things, an L-band transponder that was to broadcast GPS navigation corrections used by civil aviation and other transportation modes. GAGAN, a program that is years into development, is similar to and compatible with the U.S. WAAS, Europe’s EGNOS, and Japan’s MSAS, designed for next-generation international aviation navigation.

The initiative was using an Indian-designed and -built cryogenic engine on a rocket for the first time. The Hindu News website reported that “India began developing the cryogenic engine as its answer to technology denial regime as the U.S. not only refused the technology but also put pressure on Russia to backtrack on its commitment to New Delhi.”

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