The European Commission has just announced the official start of operations of the EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) system.
EGNOS is a satellite system which improves the accuracy of the current U.S.-based Global Positioning System (GPS), used as a standard in this field, as well as that of the Russian GLONASS, by reducing the error margin from 10 meters to a maximum of 2 meters.
Just like GPS, EGNOS will be accessible for free if you are equipped with a GPS/SBAS compatible receiver (that is, most of the receivers available today in Europe) within the operating range of the EGNOS system, that is, most European countries. Coverage will soon be extended to EU-neighboring countries and to Northern Africa.
The transponders which form EGNOS are mounted on 3 geostationary satellites, and communicate with a network of 40 positioning stations and 4 ground control centers, all of which are interconnected. EGNOS will pave the way to Galileo, a system scheduled to start its operations by 2013 to provide an even higher accuracy, with a margin of just 1 meter. Even after Galileo is in function, EU will keep on supporting and extending the scope of its EGNOS.
Thanks to EGNOS, benefits will be reaped not only by car drivers and truckers, but there will be improvements also in other fields such as agriculture (for spraying fertilizers with high precision level) or, in the transport sector, automation of toll payments. As far as personal navigation is concerned, it will be possible to have pedestrian guidance systems for the blind.
Furthermore, within the framework of the Single European Sky air navigation project, EGNOS will be used to increase safety in the Euro skies.