European Union member states began their independent testing of the Public Regulated Service (PRS) broadcast by the four Galileo navigation satellites in orbit. Transmitted on two frequency bands with enhanced protection, PRS offers a highly accurate positioning and timing service, with access strictly restricted to authorized users, such as government defense, security, and emergency services.
PRS access was initially considered for Galileo’s Full Operational Capability phase, but it has been enabled in 2013 in response to the strong interest of member states in this service. To allow early access to PRS during the current phase, the European Commission and ESA began the joint project PRS Participants To IOV (PPTI) in July 2012.
ESA ensured the availability of several tools developed under ESA contracts, including test receivers and other qualification equipment. ESA’s PRS Laboratory, based at the Agency’s ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, provided training, demonstrations and sample data.
“Belgium, France, Italy, and the UK have now performed independent PRS acquisition and positioning tests. In parallel, ESA, through collaboration with Dutch and Italian authorities, is conducting PRS fixed and mobile validation in several locations in the Netherlands and Italy,” said Miguel Manteiga Bautista, head of ESA’s Galileo Security Office.
The PRS tests have demonstrated a current autonomous positioning accuracy of less than 10 meters when in the correct geometrical configuration. This is an impressive result considering the small number of Galileo satellites in orbit and the limited ground infrastructure so far deployed.
Italy has developed its own PRS receiver, and tests have confirmed the feasibility of independent PRS receiver development and verification based on specifications provided by ESA.
“The PPTI project is still ongoing to test more advanced functionalities this coming autumn and to run the first aeronautical PRS tests in collaboration with the Dutch authorities. Other member states have also expressed their willingness to join the IOV PRS experimentation campaigns soon,“ concluded Miguel Manteiga.
The project is a first step to ensure use of the PRS as soon as it becomes operational. It will be complemented by PRS pilot projects, focused on PRS applications, which are currently under definition in a common effort between European agencies.
The United States has submitted a request to be able to use Galileo’s PRS. Other non-EU countries have also expressed a desire to be associated with the program.