I’ve been following this story for a couple of years, and now seems as good a time as any to mention it. The European Union is building a system called Galileo.
This is basically a brand new kind of GPS, which will compete with the GPS system, whose technology is nearly 25 years old. Wired has an interesting story on current negotiations. Negotiations because the US military, which owns the GPS system, doesn’t want anything which could challenge it’s benefits – guiding cruise missiles, droneships etc., and of course the commercial benefit of all the locators which use GPS.
The challenge then to Galileo is more commercial than anything esle – GPS is effectively free, but runs under the shadow that he US military can discontinue it at any time. That’s very unlikely, and with Galileo being presented as a commercial venture, finding a decent business plan might be a challenge. However, I’m hoping that new technology and the increasingly wireless world will allow both systems to succeed, especially with some of the cool new signals that Galileo will provide.