The launch of the network has been dogged by financial problems, with figures released late 2010 suggesting the project is some €1.7 billion over budget. There are also concerns that Galileo will compete with, rather than complement, the US GPS system currently relied on for the bulk of global navigation services.
The European Commission claims its Galileo satellite network will deliver up to €30 billion more to the regional economy than previously forecast.
Union officials say the constellation of 30 birds will now deliver €90 billion in economic benefits in its first 20 years of operation rather than the €60 billion previously forecast. The value is measured in terms of additional revenues for business and industry, improved public safety, and new services.
Confidence has increased with the launch of the first two satellites in the constellation late last week, which are due to begin providing services in 2014. Antonio Tajani, the European Commission vice president in charge of industry and entrepreneurship, says the door is now open for European businesses to “seize without delay the important economic opportunities” offered by the constellation.
The new set-up is geared to deliver in three areas – a free open service; a regulated public service, and a search and rescue function. Sectors including electricity grids, fleet management firms, financial transactions, shipping, and rescue and peace-keeping missions are all tipped to benefit from the new constellation.
With the first two birds up, the Commission is now turning attention to ordering the remaining satellites in the constellation. It plans to launch a further 22 satellites by end-2013, and will round out the remainder by 2020.