US, EU reach final accord in satellites row

The United States and the European Union have reached a final accord on resolving a transatlantic row over rival satellite positioning systems and will seal the deal at the US-EU summit this week in Ireland, officials from both sides said Monday.

At one point, Washington suggested that the Galileo was an unnecessary rival to GPS that merely duplicated the US system.

Despite the US reservations, Europe forged ahead with the project and Galileo is set to be operational by 2008 with 30 satellites encircling the globe in medium orbit.

Late last year, the Europeans agreed to modify the modulation of Galileo signals intended for government use so they would not disrupt encrypted GPS signals to be used by the US military and NATO.

Under the terms of the agreement, the two sides agreed on key points including:

– a common signal structure for so-called “open” services, and a suitable signal structure for the Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS).

– a process allowing improvements, either jointly or individually, of the baseline signal structures in order to further improve performances.

– confirmation of inter-operable time and standards to facilitate the joint use of GPS and Galileo.