The Russian Soyuz VS01 rocket, carrying the first two satellites of Europe's Galileo navigation system, blasts off from its launchpad at Guiana Space Center in Sinnamary, French Guiana, October 21, 2011. (Photo: CGTN)
The European Union's (EU) Galileo satellite position system on Tuesday reached one billion smartphone users worldwide, announced the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA).
The GSA termed the development as a milestone and EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship, and SMEs lauded "truly European effort" for the accomplishment.
"Galileo is now providing high-quality timing and navigation services to one billion smartphone users globally," she said.
''I am confident that our space industry will continue to thrive with more work, ideas and investment under the new EU Space Programme."
Galileo is one of the only four global satellite navigation systems, along with China's Beidou, America's Global Positioning System (GPS), and Russia's Glonass.
The GSA said the one billion users mark is based on the number of smartphones using Galileo sold across the world.
"The actual number of Galileo users is larger," it added.
The development came after Galileo suffered a mysterious system failure in July.
The GSA blamed a "technical incident related to its ground infrastructure" for the outage, which did not affect search and rescue function of the network.
The EU designed the Galileo system to compete with the US Global Positioning System (GPS), in commercial, military, and other critical applications.
95 percent of the smartphone chips makers for satellite navigation produce chips that can use Galileo.
In Europe, all new car models approved for the market are equipped with the eCall system, which uses Galileo to communicate the vehicle's location to emergency services.
Launched in 2016, Galileo this year was integrated into the digital tachographs – a speed and distance recording device – of trucks to ensure the respect of driving time rules and improve road safety.
Britain announced last year in August that it would start work on an alternative satellite system to Galileo to warrant its national security if it is excluded from equal access to the EU program after Brexit, according to a Reuters report.
Britain, which still wants to remain involved in Galileo, said it would spend 92 million pounds ($117 million) on plans for an independent satellite system, led by the UK Space Agency with support from the Ministry of Defense, the report added.
Beidou satellite navigation system
China's Beidou Satellite Navigation System started providing global services last year. It is scheduled to become complete around 2020, a China Daily report quoted the program's head as saying.
Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office, told a news conference in December 2018 that the primary system's construction of Beidou's third-generation network has finished.
"This marks Beidou's entry into a 'global era' from its 'regional era'," he said.