The UK will scrap work on its current £5bn sovereign GPS plans, says a report published by the Daily Telegraph this weekend. It asserts that a formal announcement confirming this decision will be published by the UK Space Agency in the coming days. The newspaper frames this change in policy as the scrapping of "Theresa May's plans for a British version of the GPS satellite navigation programme," and termination of the UK GNSS project "which Mrs May put £92m of taxpayer funds into in 2018".
Some sources are indicating that the UKSA is facing Whitehall pressure to revive talks to join the EU's Galileo system. The UK previously invested heavily in Galileo and as an EU member pushed for it to not be open to third party military use (the UK will become a third party at the start of 2021). However, a government spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy staunchly rebuked this idea, saying "The UK will not participate in the EU’s Galileo programme".
So, what is left as an option? The government's spokesman says assessments are ongoing. However, the Telegraph reports that the UKSA has been winding down GNSS industry contracts, basically leaving the following options: repurposing OneWeb broadband satellites to build a location system; or a regional approach using geostationary satellites.
As a reminder, OneWeb is the bankrupt space company the government has paid £400m to rescue. OneWeb entered bankruptcy in March but the UK government and India's Bharti Global got together in a JV to save it. The OneWeb investment news broke in late June this year. Some say OneWeb satellites are not suitable for carrying the heavy atomic clocks needed for accurate GPS assisting time signals and would suffer from signal interference. For more background information, you can check out a OneWeb for GNSS pros and cons list compiled by Forbes this summer.
In separate related news, the bailed-out OneWeb is set to restart launches of its LEO broadband satellites.