Message from European GNSS Agency (GSA) Executive Director Carlo des Dorides

Published: 
21 December 2018

2018 has been an action-packed year for the GSA and for Europe’s satellite navigation programmes, Galileo and EGNOS.

In terms of infrastructure, we have seen the Galileo constellation grow. In July, four more satellites were successfully launched, and are expected to enter into service in early 2019, and in October we commissioned another four satellites, launched in December 2017. The GSA was responsible for the Early Orbit Phase of both these launches, which put us on track to achieve full operational capacity in 2020.

It is not only in space that we have seen our infrastructure expand - our Earth-based assets also grew this year, with the official inauguration of the Galileo Reference Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, in May.

This expansion in infrastructure has been mirrored in an expanded market uptake of European GNSS. In a significant development for the Galileo programme, the European Commission mandated that, from 31 March 2018, all new car and light van models sold in the EU have to be fitted with Galileo-enabled eCall devices that automatically alert rescue services in the event of an accident. This was followed, six months later, by the presentation to the market of the first eCall-enabled car.

Another major market development milestone was reached in June, with the launch of the first dual-frequency smartphone. This enabled developers to create new applications that meet users’ growing high accuracy requirements, allowing them to increasingly benefit from Europe’s investment in space.

In September we published the latest issue of our GNSS User Technology Report, providing an in-depth analysis of the trends set to shape the global GNSS technology landscape. This report, along with its sister GNSS Market Report, is proving to be a useful tool for all market players, from laymen to GNSS experts, providing a comprehensive overview of the status and trends on the GNSS market.

The figures highlighted in this report bring the impressive successes of the GSA’s market development efforts into sharp focus. In the two years since the launch of Galileo Initial Services, hundreds of millions of people are already using Galileo, with 69 smartphone models Galileo-enabled and over half a billion Galileo-enabled phones sold globally. EGNOS has also seen some impressive figures: currently 80% of all tractors with guidance use EGNOS, and 81% of maritime receivers and 59 drone receiver models use EGNSS.

These excellent results bear testimony to the fact that our main commitment is to provide users with high-level, secure and reliable service world-wide. This is the GSA’s primary objective today and will remain so throughout 2019.

In 2018 we celebrated a decade of partnership between the GSA and the Galileo Masters Competition – a partnership that has helped many exciting European GNSS-based ideas make the jump from the drawing board into the devices that people carry in their pockets, and we look forward to continuing this collaboration into the future.

The end of the year has been every bit as eventful as the start. European Space Week, which ran from December 3 to 6, was a huge success, with over a thousand participants gathering in Marseille to discuss how Europe’s space programme - Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus - are tackling societal challenges and supporting business growth and efficiency in multiple sectors.

Finally, December 16 marked two years since Galileo Initial Services were launched. As industry is already very aware of the benefits that Galileo’s increased accuracy offers, the time is ripe to increase awareness among the general public of the the added value that Galileo brings. So, to coincide with the anniversary of Initial Services the new ‘Accuracy Matters’ campaign was just launched to start to inform the public about how Galileo is improving their lives. This campaign will run over the coming year.

Looking to the year ahead, I see an exciting time for Europe’s space programmes, with ever-increasing market uptake of EGNSS-based applications and services and increased public awareness and appreciation of the benefits of Galileo and EGNOS. It is with this spirit of optimism that we face the challenges ahead, which we will tackle with a renewed commitment to partner with the European Commission and the European Space Agency.

As the year draws to a close, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the GSA staff for their hard work and commitment throughout the year, and to the European GNSS user community for their trust and support.

Happy Holidays to all of you!

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Updated: Jan 09, 2019