Re: What's the point of a pilot phase
Its not been in testing that long - the constellation is not yet fully deployed. it has just reached critical minimum this year.
It's not exactly been plain sailing to this point though. Given the clock problems (which may or may not have been sorted out), one wonders for how long the constellation will be fully operational.
The FIRST satellites went up only 2 years after the proposal was funded. I think its pretty damn good going.
I recall that they had to get something up there transmitting sharpish in order to keep the frequency allocations live. Once you've applied to the ITU for a license, the clock starts transmitting and they will cancel your allocation if you don't use it.
Gallelo does not use US tech in its assembly of course.
Perhaps that's showing up; why would European generation 1 necessarily be reliable?
TBH I think the people who have got this right are the Japanese. Their few satellites compliement GPS quite nicely, but the way they've avoided having to have finickety atomic clocks on board is genius. It makes the satellites cheaper and probably more reliable, without degrading performance. That's clearly the way to go, even if you do have to have a global array of ground stations. However, despite everything the sun still doesn't set on what's left of the British empire. If anyone can host such ground stations within its own territories with sufficient visibility to allow the QZSS style of timekeeping to work globally, Britain probably can, especially if countries like Canada, Japan and Australia want to join in too. A GPS compatible GNSS could probably be launched for surprisingly small amounts of money.