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Second GPS service coming soon

I was quite intrigued to learn that the first in the Galileo series of global positioning system satellites went up last week and is due to start transmitting GPS signals this coming spring.

The Galileo project is similar to the GPS series of satellites operated by the US military, which also supplies passive location services to civilians.

Galileo is different, though, as it uses higher power spot beams and is operated on a civilian basis. This means that, unlike the US system, its signals are unlikely to be blurred at times of high security alerts.

The higher power beams will, it is said, allow GPS signals to work inside buildings, but I have my doubts.

The fact that the signals won't be deliberately blurred is a good thing, as a lot of firms rely on the US GPS service to deliver stuff in the UK.

Around 13 months ago we ordered a new TV from Empire Direct in Bradford which was duly delivered on the Thursday before Christmas. I got an anguished call from the delivery firm around 5pm, and learned that their lorry was parked outside a bank the next street along.

"Where are you? We're parked outside your office, but it's a bank," said the driver.

Turned out that the US government was sufficiently worried by terrorists at the time to blur the GPS signals in the UK and Western Europe, just in case...

Galileo won't have any of this malarkey - or so the operators claim.

Yeah, right...