FCC Approves Use of Europe’s Galileo Satellite Navigation System in U.S.

WASHINGTON, November 15, 2018 (FCC PR) — Today, the Federal Communications Commission granted in part the European Commission’s request for a waiver of the Commission’s rules so that non-Federal devices in the United States may access specific signals transmitted from the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) known as Galileo.

With today’s action, consumers and industry in the United States will now be permitted to access certain satellite signals from the Galileo system to augment the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), and thus benefit from improved availability, reliability, and resiliency of these position, navigation, and timing services in the United States.

Since the debut of the first consumer handheld GPS device in 1989, consumers and industry in the United States have relied on the U.S. GPS to support satellite-based positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) services that are integral to everyday applications ranging from driving directions to precision farming.

The Order approved today finds 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. Specifically, the Order permits access to two of the Galileo system’s satellite signals – the E1 signal that is transmitted in the 1559-1591 MHz portion of the 1559-1610 MHz Radionavigation-Satellite Service (RNSS) frequency band and the E5 signal that is transmitted in the 1164-1219 MHz portion of the 1164-1215 MHz and 1215-1240 MHz RNSS bands. These are the same RNSS bands in which the U.S. GPS satellite signals operate.

The Order does not grant access to the Galileo E6 signal, which is transmitted over the 1260-1300 MHz frequency band, since this band is not allocated for RNSS in the United States or used by the U.S. GPS to provide PNT services. The Commission noted that granting access to the Galileo E6 signal could constrain U.S. spectrum management in the future in spectrum above 1300 MHz, where potential allocation changes are under consideration.

Action by the Commission November 15, 2018 by Order (FCC 18-158). Chairman Pai, Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr, and Rosenworcel approving and issuing separate statements.