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FCC Allows Access To Galileo For Improved Geolocation

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allows businesses and individuals, including those who operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for professional use, within the United States to access certain satellite signals from the European Union’s Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System (Galileo).

This access, which was granted in the fall, permits entities to use Galileo’s E1 and E5 signals to augment the United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS), resulting in improved availability, reliability, and resiliency of position, navigation, and timing services within the U.S.

While the breadth of effect of this decision by the FCC is far-reaching, access to Galileo may be more significant for UAVs. For example, the immediate effects of access to Galileo signals are likely to be felt by those entities who currently use UAVs in precision farming operations.

Precision agriculture is essentially high-tech farming, where satellite technology and other sensors, such as those affixed to UAVs, are used to measure the properties of soil and surrounding air. With the information gathered from these sources, farmers are better able to react to the needs of individual crops, which should result in higher yields and greater efficiency. Farmers in the U.S. utilizing UAVs in precision farming have previously had to rely solely upon GPS to gather required satellite data, but the FCC’s approval regarding Galileo means these farmers are likely to reap the benefits in increased crop yields and profitability moving forward.

Several U.S. devices already have the hardware required to access Galileo signals, including the latest generations of smartphones. However, many state-of-the-art devices will require software patches to access Galileo. Once formatted properly, devices access Galileo’s signals in the same manner as they now access GPS signals.

© 2020 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 50



About this Author

Clifford G. Maine, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Grand Rapids, Corporate Law Attorney

Clifford G. Maine is chairman of the firm’s Aviation Law Group. Mr. Maine's practice encompasses a wide variety of aviation law practice areas. He serves as general counsel to numerous aviation organizations, including the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport Authority.

Mr. Maine’s aviation clients include some of the largest corporate flight departments in the world. He has structured numerous aviation transactions, including domestic and foreign-based aircraft purchase and sale transactions, like-kind exchanges, timeshare agreements,...

Todd Dixon Commercial Litigation & Aviation Attorney

Todd A. Dixon is an attorney in Barnes & Thornburg's Grand Rapids and Indianapolis offices and focuses his practice on commercial litigation and aviation law.

Todd's practice encompasses a wide variety of aviation law practice areas. He has structured aviation transactions, including domestic and foreign-based aircraft purchase and sale transactions, like-kind exchanges, timeshare agreements, interchange agreements, joint and fractional ownership agreements, personal and executive use policies, FAA registrations, Capetown International Registry, and aircraft leasing transactions...

Kenneth D. Suzan, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Minneapolis, Intellectual Property and Litigation Law Attorney
Of Counsel

Kenneth D. Suzan is of counsel in Barnes & Thornburg LLP's Minneapolis, Minnesota office and is a member of the firm's Intellectual Property Department.

Mr. Suzan has experience in the areas of trademark law, copyright law, Internet law, social media law, domain names, and service mark matters. He has counseled his clients on a variety of issues ranging from the inception of a trademark to ultimate registration, licensing and enforcement. Mr. Suzan counsels and assists wearable technology companies to protect brand names through trademark,...

Shane Solinger, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Minneapolis, Corporate, Finance and Bankruptcy Law Attorney

Shane Solinger is an associate in the Minneapolis office of Barnes & Thornburg, where he is a member of the Corporate Department.

Mr. Solinger gained legal experience as a summer associate for in the firm’s Minneapolis office and through an internship with Spectrum Brands, Inc. In those roles, he drafted responses to motions for summary judgment, motions for relief from automatic stays, complaints and answers; researched and drafted memoranda on diverse legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, business litigation, and various federal...