Sweden: Swepos, a Swedish firm has become the first foreign company to use Russian satellite navigation technology (GLONASS), in a sign that the system could become a credible challenge to the US rival GPS, Reuters reported.
Swepos is a national network of satellite reference stations which provides data for real-time positioning with meter accuracy. The company said GLONASS was better than GPS at northern latitudes. “It functions somewhat better at northern latitudes because its satellite orbits are located higher in the sky and we see them better than we do the GPS satellites,” said Bo Jonsson, Deputy Head, geodesic research unit at Swepos.
Russia has been developing GLONASS since 1976, spending USD 2 billion on it over the last decade. The country still has three satellites to launch in order to complete the satellite network. The project suffered a major embarrassing setback last year when three of the satellites plunged into the Pacific Ocean after a rocket launch went wrong, raising questions over the system’s future. In consequence, the deputy of Anatoly Perminov, Head of Russia’s Federal Space Agency, lost his job after the rocket crash.
Jonsson added that 90 percent of their clients were using GLONASS in combination with GPS. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who oversees GLONASS development, visited the firm earlier this month. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will also visit Sweden later this month, where he is expected to promote the system.
Russia plans to introduce duties of around 25 percent by 2012 on the import of mobile phones without the GLONASS navigation system, as part of efforts to encourage worldwide adoption of the technology.