The European Galileo system, which is set to supplant GPS when it hopefully gets going properly, is all set to meet its operational deadline of 2010. The first of 30 satellites was put into orbit on Wednesday. An international effort through and through (the European Union will be sharing some of the technological benefits with China), the system will have the potential to be accurate to within one metre. GPS is only accurate to within about 30 metres for civilian applications.

Most of Galileo's potential applications have something to do with navigation. However, the potential for location-based services for mobile phones shouldn't be underestimated. For example, most 3G handsets sold by 3 in the UK now have a built-n A-GPS function.

With Galileo chips inside mobile phones, location services will work even better. Plus, unlike standard GPS, Galileo is deliberately designed to work inside buildings and built-up areas.