I see that some (or all?) Android devices that support Galileo global positioning system are deliberately programmed to self-disable their Galileo support when used in USA or US territories.

This applies to Sony Xperia XZ Premium, for one example, whose hardware supports GPS, GLONASS, BDS and Galileo. According to the official response, it is not a matter of region-specific firmware, but rather a purposely programmed real-time behavior: any XZ Premium device, regardless of its region of origin, will see Galileo satellites outside of USA, but inside USA it will deliberately pretend that they don't exist.

What is the reason for this behavior?

Is this some sort of company-specific patent or legal issue?

Or is it some kind of US or European regulation?

  • most apps are built for gps, though android 7+ supports gnss & Galileo. developer.android.com/reference/android/location/…
    – Mapperz
    Feb 28, 2018 at 5:13
  • @Mapperz: GPS Test is built for everything. Yet in USA I can only see a full sky of GPS and GLONASS satellites, and occasionally a lone SBAS or QZSS. No Galileo. Feb 28, 2018 at 5:29
  • in-the-sky.org/satmap_worldmap.php shows the Galileo GSAT0207 (GALILEO 15) Satellite over Canada [7.38am MT]
    – Mapperz
    Feb 28, 2018 at 14:38
  • 4
    @Mapperz: There's no doubt that Galileo sats are physically visible over North America. One can catch the signal using some less generic equipment. But the phones are programmed to hide their existence. Hence the question. Feb 28, 2018 at 19:57
  • 2
    Could you include the "official response" in your question? Did that come from Sony?
    – Dan C
    Feb 28, 2018 at 20:54

2 Answers 2


This is not a technical reason (Gallileo satellite fly above the US and could work above the US like in other places of the world), but this is a trade law issue, as stated in "inside GNSS":

...in 2014 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) underscored that all non-GPS signals would need to be authorized for use in the United States under a long-standing trade law aimed at satellite communications...

more details here

Europe is the first — and thus far, only — GNSS system operator to request such a waiver (GLONASS and Beidou didn't ask). As far as I know, they are still discussions between Europe and the US, including a big debate around PRS (see this post of november 2017).

  • 1
    As an updated (November 2018), the Gallileo waiver is now set to be officially voted on. See the current details at the GPS website: gps.gov/spectrum/foreign
    – hazzey
    Nov 20, 2018 at 16:50

On November 15, 2018 the FCC approved the waiver mentioned in the answer by @radouxju to allow the use of the Galileo E1 and E5 signals within the US. See https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-approves-galileo-global-navigation-system-0 for the press release etc.

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