Europe’s Alternative to GPS is Unusable Since Friday

The European Union’s satellite system, Galileo, has been down for four days since 11th of July 2019 following a mysterious outage due to a “technical incident related to its ground infrastructure” at the European GNSS Agency (GSA). At the time of writing, 24 out of 26 Galileo satellites are non-operational and the other two are giving a status of ‘testing’ which means they are not functional either.

The agency has issued a warning saying, “should be employed at users’ own risk” meaning, all receivers, such as the latest smartphone models, will not be picking up any useable timing or positional information and newer systems that rely on Galileo should shift to China’s BeiDou, US’s GPS or Russia’s GLONASS for the time being.

Only the search and rescue (SAR) system used for emergency rescue and response is working and can be used by people who get in trouble in remote areas like mountains and seas.

At the time of the outage, the GSA noted, “the signals may not be available nor meet the minimum performance levels.”  On 13th July the officials issued a statement,

The cause of the technical incident is identified” and on 14th they revealed that the issue found is related to the ground infrastructure. They also said, “Experts are working to restore the situation as soon as possible. An Anomaly Review Board has been immediately set up to analyze the exact root cause and to implement recovery actions.

Later on, the specialist sat-nav website announced that the glitch was found in the precise timing facility located in Italy. All the system clocks are calibrated at this facility. At this point, there is no word about when the system will come back online.

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