|Feb 20, 2013|
Chinese Beidou satellite navigation system set to soar
|(Nanowerk News) The fledgling Beidou satellite navigation system will soon benefit hundreds of millions of users, and provide a cheaper and in some cases better alternative than the Global Positioning System, industry specialists said.|
|The Beidou network has 16 navigation satellites hovering over the Asia-Pacific region. But global coverage will be achieved when the network has more than 30 satellites.|
"By 2020, China will introduce a world-leading navigation system to more than 100 cities and 200 million users across the country," Vice-Minister of Science and Technology Cao Jianlin told China Daily.
Beidou has advantages, Cao said, over the three other global navigation systems - the GPS of the United States, Europe's Galileo and Russia's Glonass - such as short-message communication.
The market for transportation, weather, and telecom spinoff services from Beidou could be worth 225 billion yuan ($36 billion) by 2015.
The military is already reaping the benefits even though the system has not reached full capacity.
A naval fleet conducting patrols and training exercises recently used Beidou, according to a China National Radio report on Feb 4.
|The fleet, with missile destroyer Qingdao and missile frigates Yantai and Yancheng, entered the South China Sea at 11:40 am on Feb 1, after passing through the Bashi Channel.|
|Beidou provided positioning, security and protection for the fleet, Lei Xiwei, information chief at the headquarters of the North Sea Fleet, said.|
|Li Changjiang, chief commander of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, said the system can provide valuable intelligence.|
|The network's success is due in part to the technology behind the atomic clock, Li said.|
|Atomic timepieces are a crucial tool in navigation systems as their accuracy and stability are key requisites.|
|Only the US and a few countries in Europe have mastered the technology and Washington banned its export to China.|
|"It is the most complex technology in the system," he said.|
|After Chinese scientists made the breakthrough in the past decade, the Beidou satellites have achieved the ability to locate a user to within 10 meters.|
|In terms of performance, Beidou is "comparable" to the GPS, Ran Chengqi, a spokesman for the China Satellite Navigation Office, said in December.|
|Li said that another important application of the Beidou system is to provide precision for any transactions that require speed and accuracy, such as bank settlements.|
|Cao Hongjie, vice-president of UniStrong, a company involved in global navigation services, said Beidou will have broader applications than the GPS.|
|"Compared with the GPS, Beidou will make it easier for users to locate other people," Cao said.|
|This function is particularly suitable for those looking after the elderly or children, he said.|
|Transportation companies will also benefit by being able to keep track of vehicles and can use the short message function to dispatch drivers more efficiently, he said.|
|However, Li Yi, a science observer, warns that excessive government support could make Beidou less competitive and the market will have the final say.|
|"Beidou's success should be proved by the market," Li Yi told China National Radio.|
|China also opens Beidou for foreign users.|
|On Dec 27, China published the Beidou interface control document. The document describes how to access the functions and services provided by Beidou, and allows foreign companies to use the service.|
|Beidou, unlike other systems, is open and allows interoperation with other systems, Vice-Minister Cao said.|
|"We welcome international companies to develop client-side devices and services based on Beidou. We welcome the competition," he said.|
|Source: China Daily|
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