US iPhones and iPads might soon access EU's Galileo satellite navigation system thanks to ...

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Apple iPhone and iPad owners in the U.S. might soon see improvements to GPS accuracy and reliability, as the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved a request to grant consumer devices access to Europe's Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System.

Galileo
Rendering of Galileo satellite. | Source: ESA


The FCC order, which in part grants a European Commission request to waive FCC rules, allows non-federal devices to access certain signals transmitted from Galileo satellites. Because Galileo is global, compatible consumer devices will be able to augment the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) for improved availability, reliability, and resiliency of these position, navigation, and timing services in America, the FCC says.

Galileo is a prime candidate for consolidation with GPS in supporting devices, as the foreign GNSS system is interoperable and radio frequency compatible with its U.S. counterpart. Specifically, the FCC order permits access to Galileo's E1 signal -- transmitted in the 1559-1591 MHz portion of the 1559-1610 MHz Radionavigation-Satellite Service (RNSS) frequency band -- and the E5 signal -- transmitted in the 1164-1219 MHz portion of the 1164-1215 MHz and 1215-1240 MHz RNSS
bands. Those same bands are also utilized by GPS.

"This breakthrough serves the public interest across many areas of our economy, including the automotive, aviation, rail, maritime, and agriculture industries," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement that quizzically includes reference to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." "It will also produce public safety benefits by reducing risks of accidents and disaster, aiding emergency response, and synchronizing power grids and critical infrastructure. And with our action today, we'll hopefully make it easier for mariners to find their way to their destination 'any way the wind blows.'"

The FCC notes consumer devices in the are not granted access to the Galileo E6 signal, as the band is not allocated for RNSS in the U.S. or used by the U.S. GPS to provide PNT services.





With the order in place, Apple now has an opportunity to activate Galileo signal reception in compatible iOS devices. The company first delivered Galileo support with iPhone 8 in 2017, about a year after the GNSS went live in late 2016. This year's iPhone XS and XR, as well as Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of the new iPad Pro, are also compatible with the service.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    Since the devices are, as far as I understand, only listening to the satellites, not transmitting to them, why do they need FCC approval?
    bonobobrcfatoysandme78BanditnetmageSpamSandwichjony0
  • Reply 2 of 22
    When I was in the UK in May I was surprised how inaccurate the GPS was on my iPhone X. It wasn’t precise at all. I actually had my X replaced when I was there (in London) and received a UK model and it didn’t appear to be any better. It was good enough but not precise. Maybe I experienced a fluke, but it’s hard for me to feel like this is a good thing... 
  • Reply 3 of 22
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,051member
    Great news!
  • Reply 4 of 22
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 257member
    georgie01 said:
    When I was in the UK in May I was surprised how inaccurate the GPS was on my iPhone X. It wasn’t precise at all. I actually had my X replaced when I was there (in London) and received a UK model and it didn’t appear to be any better. It was good enough but not precise. Maybe I experienced a fluke, but it’s hard for me to feel like this is a good thing... 
    why? For positioning the more satellites to cross reference the better. And this adds more satellites that potentially can be above your horizon and available for getting you a position fix. 
    socalbrianjony0
  • Reply 5 of 22
    flydogflydog Posts: 136member
    applejeff said:
    Since the devices are, as far as I understand, only listening to the satellites, not transmitting to them, why do they need FCC approval?
    Because the FCC’s authority is not limited to “transmitting” and because even devices that are purely receivers emit radio frequency energy that can interfere with other devices. 
    chiabluefire1jony0
  • Reply 6 of 22
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,067member
    applejeff said:
    Since the devices are, as far as I understand, only listening to the satellites, not transmitting to them, why do they need FCC approval?
    "Receivers operating above 960 MHz are only subject to the requirements of FCC Part 15.5, which basically state that the device cannot cause interference and that it must accept any interference caused by a licensed radio station. This section also states that if the device does cause interference it ceases operation upon notice from the FCC and cannot resume operation until the interference is resolved." (from some Rhein Tech document - http://www.rheintech.com - don't have the original link though)
    rcfachiaanantksundarambluefire1netmagesocalbrianjony0
  • Reply 7 of 22
    Wonderful news. Just as those of us in the UK will probably lose access to Galileo due to BREXIT even though we paid a lot of the costs.
  • Reply 8 of 22
    Wonderful news. Just as those of us in the UK will probably lose access to Galileo due to BREXIT even though we paid a lot of the costs.
    More Remoaner nonsense.

    Anybody equipped with a receiver in any country will be able to access Galileo - assuming the EU can find replacement ground stations to replace the U.K. controlled ones.
    The U.K. military may lose access to the encrypted military signals; but that’s assuming they work as the encryption tech is British and an export ban has been threatened.
    Theres also the small matter of the hugely over budget Galileo system suffering clock failures aboard the satellites; only the Swiss built clocks though... the U.K. built clocks are fine.
  • Reply 9 of 22
    georgie01 said:
    When I was in the UK in May I was surprised how inaccurate the GPS was on my iPhone X. It wasn’t precise at all. I actually had my X replaced when I was there (in London) and received a UK model and it didn’t appear to be any better. It was good enough but not precise. Maybe I experienced a fluke, but it’s hard for me to feel like this is a good thing... 
    The tech, understand, you do not.

    The more sources of data available to the phone, the better it’ll be be at figuring out exactly where it is.

    When you set up your new phone it probs also recognized you as subject to the FCC regulations, and therefore never used this extra data available to us with phones properly set to the local region.
    netmagechiaAppleExposed
  • Reply 10 of 22
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,075member
    seanj said:
    Wonderful news. Just as those of us in the UK will probably lose access to Galileo due to BREXIT even though we paid a lot of the costs.
    More Remoaner nonsense.

    Anybody equipped with a receiver in any country will be able to access Galileo - assuming the EU can find replacement ground stations to replace the U.K. controlled ones.
    The U.K. military may lose access to the encrypted military signals; but that’s assuming they work as the encryption tech is British and an export ban has been threatened.
    Theres also the small matter of the hugely over budget Galileo system suffering clock failures aboard the satellites; only the Swiss built clocks though... the U.K. built clocks are fine.
    FWIW, I'm a staunch remainer

    Nice roundup of Galileo and Brexit here:

    http://insidegnss.com/brexit-and-galileo-plenty-of-rumblings-but-wheres-the-beef/
    spheric
  • Reply 11 of 22
    flydog said:
    applejeff said:
    Since the devices are, as far as I understand, only listening to the satellites, not transmitting to them, why do they need FCC approval?
    Because the FCC’s authority is not limited to “transmitting” and because even devices that are purely receivers emit radio frequency energy that can interfere with other devices. 
    The article says the same band range is utilized for GPS so there wouldn't be any difference in the energy emitted by a GPS equipped receiver.  There's got to be some bureaucratic reason for the ban.
    edited November 2018 netmage
  • Reply 12 of 22
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,113member
    flydog said:
    applejeff said:
    Since the devices are, as far as I understand, only listening to the satellites, not transmitting to them, why do they need FCC approval?
    Because the FCC’s authority is not limited to “transmitting” and because even devices that are purely receivers emit radio frequency energy that can interfere with other devices. 
    Absolute bollocks (if anything receivers remove radio energy from that frequency range from the surroundings).
    edited November 2018 netmage
  • Reply 13 of 22
    knowitall said:
    flydog said:
    applejeff said:
    Since the devices are, as far as I understand, only listening to the satellites, not transmitting to them, why do they need FCC approval?
    Because the FCC’s authority is not limited to “transmitting” and because even devices that are purely receivers emit radio frequency energy that can interfere with other devices. 
    Abolute bollocks (if anything receivers remove radio energy from that frequency range from the surroundings).
    Even your ducking coffee machine emit radio frequency radiation; it's not as simple as a receiver being like a blackhole just eating up energy from its surroundings.

    That being said… These rules weren't made today for today's usage of modern tech; so there's basically a legacy hell, combined with a lot of caution, that makes things the way they are.
  • Reply 14 of 22
    But in today's world it makes no sense for them to limit the bands - it's not like the satellites aren't already transmitting the E6 data across the US. Unless they turn off and on those transmitters for certain parts of the globe, on which case, you just wouldn't receive anything in the US - still doesn't make sense.
    That part of the ruling sounds like it was made without any technical understanding.
  • Reply 15 of 22
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 195member
    flydog said:
    applejeff said:
    Since the devices are, as far as I understand, only listening to the satellites, not transmitting to them, why do they need FCC approval?
    Because the FCC’s authority is not limited to “transmitting” and because even devices that are purely receivers emit radio frequency energy that can interfere with other devices. 
    No, they don't. The problem is most receivers use the superheterodyne principle, which involves injecting a low-power signal into the tuning path to make filtering the signal from the noise easier. This makes them not "purely receivers". A device which is actually purely a receiver needs no licensing or FCC approval to operate. This includes certain "software-defined radio" units which perform something similar to superhet frequency mixing in software using a DSP.

    The concern here is GPS receivers operate on the superhet principle, and they do so on extremely faint signals. Leaking under a milliwatt of power on the wrong frequency can mess with GPS receivers for 20-100 feet. Thus, the FCC needs to be sure enabling new functionality in a superhet receiver using frequencies close to those already used won't break other nearby devices.

    Source: I'm an Extra-class radio operator.
    svanstromavon b7AppleExposedroundaboutnowciasphericSpamSandwichbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 16 of 22
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,113member
    svanstrom said:
    knowitall said:
    flydog said:
    applejeff said:
    Since the devices are, as far as I understand, only listening to the satellites, not transmitting to them, why do they need FCC approval?
    Because the FCC’s authority is not limited to “transmitting” and because even devices that are purely receivers emit radio frequency energy that can interfere with other devices. 
    Abolute bollocks (if anything receivers remove radio energy from that frequency range from the surroundings).
    Even your ducking coffee machine emit radio frequency radiation; it's not as simple as a receiver being like a blackhole just eating up energy from its surroundings.

    That being said… These rules weren't made today for today's usage of modern tech; so there's basically a legacy hell, combined with a lot of caution, that makes things the way they are.
    There are strict rules for radio emissions from devices, so a typical smartphone must adhere to that and receiving one frequency or the other, everything else being the same, doesn’t makes a jota difference for the emission profile. (Note that your phone receives lots of frequency’s even at the same time.)
    So I call utter bollocks (“een broodje aap” again).

    (edit: a way to understand this is that a faraday cage is a generic property)
    edited November 2018
  • Reply 17 of 22
    applejeff said:
    Since the devices are, as far as I understand, only listening to the satellites, not transmitting to them, why do they need FCC approval?
    And in a more broad sense the FCC also certain frequencies may be allocated for different functions in different countries.

    Example: EU may allocate band XXX for satellite navigation, but in the US it may be allocated for a military radar. The EU navigation devices wouldn't work so well in the US.

    That doesn't appear to apply here.
  • Reply 18 of 22
    woot woot!

    I just upgraded from an SE to an XR yesterday. Love it! Yes, it's a massive slab, which was not something I wanted, but I'll adapt, and the larger screen is actually a boost to my productivity on the phone.
    command_f
  • Reply 19 of 22
    I wonder if this will be activated in Canada, too? 
    AppleExposed
  • Reply 20 of 22
    applejeff said:
    Since the devices are, as far as I understand, only listening to the satellites, not transmitting to them, why do they need FCC approval?
    You know it is not like human ear listening in passive mode. You need detection circuits and they also work using high frequency waves. That is why it is not free for all and FCC has to regulate them.
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