Your Phone's GPS Accuracy May Suck Less Soon Thanks to a New FCC Order

Illustration for article titled Your Phones GPS Accuracy May Suck Less Soon Thanks to a New FCC Orderem/em
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The Federal Communications Commission just made a move to make global location positioning even more global by opening the doors to Europe’s system.

The European Union has its own brand of GPS called Galileo, which it launched in 2016 so that it could provide positioning services independently of the U.S. system (GPS), Russia’s GLONASS, and China’s BeiDou.

The U.S. launched GPS in 1978, and the first civilian devices that used the system were manufactured in the late 1980s. But if you’ve traveled to Europe recently, and you have an iPhone or Samsung released in the last year or so, your phone might have used Galileo instead of GPS. A new federal order means you’ll be able to use a fusion of the two here in the U.S., benefiting from both networks of satellites.


The FCC announced today that it approved an order to allow non-federal devices to use specific signals from Galileo, dubbed E1 and E5, in the U.S. These signals would enhance GPS, improving speed and location accuracy, according to the FCC.

“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 to the Verge. “It will also produce public safety benefits by reducing risks of accidents and disaster, aiding emergency response, and synchronizing power grids and critical infrastructure.”

Enjoy this rare recent FCC order that stands to make your life better.

[FCC, Verge]


Former senior reporter at Gizmodo

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Very Little Gravitas Indeed

So - Anyone have some actual hands on knowledge of this topic? My last several phones have had Galileo receivers so I honestly assumed it was already in use. Are the satellites switching various transmitters on and off as they pass overhead? Are the receivers just software disabled by FCC order? Is it a firmware flash, a setting change?