This satellite positioning system is meant to provide an independent positioning system upon which European nations can rely.

This independence is important: the US GPS suffers from many restrictions to its positioning accuracy (about 20 meters for the free signal) and to its reliability (selective availability may be enabled in particular areas of coverage for technical and/or political reasons).

The Galileo system will be under strict civilian control, unlike the other existing systems, which are military infrastructure. On that occasion, a Galileo Joint Undertaking was created in July 2003, with its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

Galileo will broadcast 10 signals :

  • 6 for free services
  • 2 for commercial service
  • 2 for public regulated services

There will be five navigation services available :

  • The Open Service (OS) will be free for everyone to access, like the free service offered by the GPS, but will achieve accuracy of one meter. Unaltered information is not ensured. Private individuals will mainly use this service
  • The Commercial Service (CS) will be available for a fee and will offer accuracy of better than one meter. Also to be mentioned, the possibility to broadcast encrypted information through two additional signals. Fees to access this service will mainly finance Galileo
  • The Safety of Life Service (SOL) with accuracy comparable to the Open Service, but ensuring unaltered information. This service will be used by applications ensuring the safety of human lives, that might be at risk in case the signal weakens
  • The Public Regulated Services (PRS) : with its enhanced reliability, this service is reserved for public administrations such as firefighters, police, civilian protection. Because it must be available anytime, it is broadcast through two different signals, with robustness against jamming and the reliable detection of problems within ten seconds
  • The Search And Rescue service (SAR), meant to detect search and rescue beacons (possibility to send them an acknowledgement of receipt). The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will regulate and determine the functions of this service.