Europe's sat-nav network crippled by 'technical incident'

Galileo has been down for four days and counting.

Europe's Galileo satellite network, freshly approved by the FCC for US smartphones, has suffered a serious outage. The system has been down since Friday due to what officials at the European GNSS Agency (GSA) have described as a "technical incident related to its ground infrastructure." That means users with newer smartphones that support Galileo will be relying on GPS, Russia's Glonass or the Chinese Beidou networks for navigation, instead.

The GSA said that "experts are working to restore the situation as soon as possible. An Anomaly Review Board has been immediately set up to analyze the exact root cause and to implement recovery actions." Sat-nav capabilities will be unavailable until further notice, it added. However, Galileo's ability to pick up distress messages for search and rescue is apparently still working.

The outage won't make your navigation chores any less accurate, but it's worrying that a relatively new, technically sophisticated system can go down for so long. According to the specialist sat-nav site Inside GNSS (yes, that's a thing), the glitch happened at the Precise Timing Facility (PTF) in Italy, where all the Galileo system clocks are calibrated and checked.

The EU built Galileo to give it civilian and military alternatives to the US GPS and Russia's GLONASS. The GSA launched the first satellite in 2005 and now has 26 out of 30 operating. Service came online in 2016, however the system is still in a pilot phase, meaning it's not meant to be used for mission-critical situations. Hopefully, the EU can fix it and work out the bugs before it does go into full operation.