PRS: A Huge Potential for Europe

24 July 2014

The Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS) will be a unique feature of the EU’s new Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). This robust and secure service will be made available to authorised users, such as emergency services, via authorised national authorities. The deployment, implementation and use of PRS was the subject of a recent briefing for Belgian civil authorities at the Royal Military Academy (RMA) in Brussels.

In summary, the Galileo PRS will provide a permanent encrypted and robust signal forAccording to GSA Executive Director Carlo des Dorides, starting in 2017, Galileo will become one of the main areas of activity of the GSA. use by disaster management services, security forces and defence. However, such a system comes with responsibility – namely ensuring the system remains safeguarded. With modern society increasingly relying on satellite navigation infrastructure, it is essential that best practises are implemented and a dialogue maintained with private sector players on operational issues.

As an example of how this private/public sector dialog should look, Claudia de Maesschalck of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed to Belgium, praising it and its industry for its work in support of GNSS and, specifically, Galileo and PRS. “Belgium is well advanced in PRS in terms of R&D, testing and demonstration, and manufacturing – and we intend to stay at the forefront,” she said.

Galileo Status

The provision of Galileo services, including PRS, is now the responsibility of the European GNSS Agency (GSA). “The GSA now has responsibility for the operation and service provision for EGNOS and, from 2014, its core business is shifting from one of technology provision to service provision,” said GSA Executive Director Carlo des Dorides. “In the future, starting in 2017, Galileo will become one of the main areas of activity of the GSA.”

From 2015, Galileo Early Services will become available. However, since 2013, PRS has proven that it is a truly independent and secure GNSS service. According to des Dorides, in addition to EU Member States, third countries have requested access to PRS.

Already several Member States have established a Competent PRS Authority (CPA), tested the PR S signal and confirmed their interest in PRS pilot projects..  In January, a consortium of companies was awarded a contract to develop the first generation of PRS operational receivers for use by PRS participants in EU Member States. The receivers will be used in PRS pilot projects.

Although access to PRS was initially envisaged as being available when the Galileo satellites were in Full Operation Capability (FOC), due to the strong interest of Member States joint projects, ‘PRS participants to In-Orbit-Validation’ (PPTI) were initiated in July 2012. This ensures Member States will be in a position to use PRS operationally earlier than FOC is achieved.

Des Dorides also reminded delegates that the Commission’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme is set to announce the first calls for projects in the PRS user segment. With a budget of €20 million, the call is scheduled for the second half of 2014.

“The potential market for PRS is huge,” claimed des Dorides. The military segment was substantial –– and it is estimated that up to 60 % of the three million civilian security users in Europe will also need access, plus additional requirements, for secure timing and synchronisation services for critical infrastructures.”

No Spoof

PRS’s use of encrypted navigation signals and a wider bandwidth than the normalThe ESA’s Christian Lezy says the Redu test facility will be of great benefit for EU industry. Galileo Open Service means it is more robust to jamming or spoofing of the signal. The risk of a loss of signal is greatly reduced, which means any attempt at malicious interference requires more power and therefore the source of interference should be easier to locate.

And, of course, PRS will remain available when the Open Service has been temporarily suspended or jammed due to a security issue.

Christian Lezy from the European Space Agency (ESA) described the In-Orbit testing of the PRS signal from the ESA’s ground station in Redu, Belgium. Secure testing is being set-up for characterising the PRS signal in space. The modular facility will use Redu’s 20 metre L-band dish to enable a practically noiseless environment for measurement.

The facility will be ready by late August, around the same time when the third Galileo satellite launch is expected. Testing of PRS is anticipated by late October or early November. “The Redu system will allow full performance characterisation of PRS in space,” said Lezy. “The test facility will be of great benefit for EU industry.”

Open and secure

A nominated Competent PRS Authority (CPA) is required for each Member States using PRS or manufacturing PRS technologies.  The CPA will have an essential role in implementing and managing PRS in every EU member state. In Belgium Bruno Vermeire will be moving from the National Security Authority to head up his country’s CPA and he described the role of these new authorities and the specific structures being established in Belgium.

“Galileo PRS will give the EU and its Member States independence and a GNSS that is both open and secure,” said Vermeire. “Currently we must ask other people ‘Please can we use your signals?’. PRS puts the situation other way around and gives us autonomy and authority.

Essentially each CPA is responsible for managing and supervising its PRS users and any manufacturers of PRS receivers and other equipment in its territory. The CPA also controls the use of PRS receivers through the provision of encryption keys provided by the GSMC.

Initially – up to 2020 - the Belgian CPA will be operating a manual point of contact system to serve the national PRS user community which will initially be small. However during this time it will be preparing for the future. A key role of the CPA will also be to coordinate all future PRS pilot programmes and PPTI initiatives. The next phase of PPTI projects will be from 2014 to 2017 and proposals for testing user requirements or scenarios were requested.

After 2020 Vermeire foresees a fully electronic exchange of information that will be able to handle a much larger user community as PRS is adopted widely by the emergency services and other civilian security organisations.

“The potential market for PRS is huge.”
Carlo des Dorides, Executive Director, GSA


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More information:

The European GNSS Agency

Read more:

GSA Launches Consultations On Technology Roadmap For The Galileo Public Regulated Services (PRS) In Support Of The User Segment Development And Market Uptake

Updated: Jul 31, 2014