A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2020 Jan 19, 10:04 -0800
Yeah, I posted a link to that article a few weeks ago (at least I think I did). It's a reasonable speculation especially based on some of those anecdotal stories. If you're crossing the Atlantic from Europe picking up Galileo signals all the way until you enter US air space, the explanation would have to be regulatory. The device knows it's in the geo-fenced territory of the USA so it drops the Galileo signals from its solution at that point. This might seem absurd since the signals are present regardless. In fact, on an inbound flight like that, you would be using Galileo data to determine that you cannot use Galileo data.
This filtering of Galileo signals, if in fact that's what's happening, has to occur within the smartphone or other receiving device. The incoming satellite signals can't be turned off so selectively. They're being ignored within the device. This also fits with reports that professional GNSS equipment has no problem picking up the Galileo signals. Is professional GNSS hardware exempt from the rules? ignored by the regulators? Is the equipment purchased from other regions of the world?
I'm not convinced that the theory suggested by Sean Barbeau is correct. We need more evidence. Anyone planning a trip to Mexico this winter? Can a modern smartphone get a Galileo-improved fix in Cancun? Better yet, can you get a fix adied by Galileo signals in Panama or Chile? I suppose we would have heard from Canadian users already if Galileo fixes were possible north of the border. It's also possible that Mexico and Canada coordinate significant aspects of regulation in this area with the US FCC (which is why I suggested Panama or Chile, a bit further afield).
Let's assume this speculation is mostly correct. When will the rules be changed? Adding Galileo and Beidou to the position solutions for consumer devices like smartphones would only modestly improve the fixes that we see. There's very little consumer demand for this. And that means it's a the bottom of the list of priorities for the regulators. For the manufacturers and sellers of smartphones there's probably almost no incentive to work with the powers that be to rationalize the rules. They can just wait it out. And if the rules are changed, the devices can presumably begin listening to the Galileo satellites after a simple system update which would be added to the usual pipeline with other system software updates. I wouldn't be surprised if we wake up on December 25, 2020 and discover that all our devices can now get fixes by Galileo. Thank you, Santa! Who knows... we might even get Christmas in July. :)