Mobile Technology

China's BeiDou global satellite navigation system is fully operational

China's BeiDou global satellit...
A BeiDou satellite is fired into space on an earlier launch
A BeiDou satellite is fired into space on an earlier launch
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A BeiDou satellite is fired into space on an earlier launch
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A BeiDou satellite is fired into space on an earlier launch

More than 30 years of planning and development have borne fruit six months ahead of schedule, as China's complete BeiDou-3 global satellite positioning system was formally commissioned this month.

The 55th and final BeiDou satellite was launched on June 23rd, and has now completed testing and gone into full service. BeiDou is one of four global sat-nav positioning networks, alongside America's GPS, Russia's GLONASS and Europe's Galileo system.

Originally conceived in the 1980s, the network represents a colossal business opportunity for China, which is projecting revenues approaching US$60 billion in 2020. More than this, though, it's a huge military and strategic landmark for a country that has seen first-hand what it means to use a satellite positioning system owned by a rival nation.

Back in 1996, China was rattling its sabers by taking missile pot shots against targets close to Taiwan, when two of its GPS-guided missiles went off course and disappeared in an incident that later analysis determined could have been caused by American meddling with the positioning signal. Clearly, the nation's leaders decided, a Sinocentric alternative was a critical strategic necessity, and the first satellites were put in orbit in the year 2000.

BeiDou's public service delivers an average positioning accuracy of 2.34 meters (7.7 feet) according to a recent analysis by the International GNSS Monitoring and Assessment System. In certain areas within China, accuracy is already at the centimeter level, and with post-processing it could reach the millimeter level. Velocity measurement is better than 0.2 m/s, and timing accuracy is better than 20 nanoseconds.

There is also a military level of service, currently used only by China's People's Liberation Army and the Pakistan Armed forces, which offers 10-cm (4-in) accuracy and critical system status information.

BeiDou also offers a short message communication service through its satellites, which provides very limited emergency communications for those with the necessary equipment in areas with little other coverage, such as for ships out in the middle of the ocean. The BeiDou network has more than 99-percent coverage across the globe.

Apple and Samsung phones, among others, are already using BeiDou's signal to improve the quality of their positioning services, as are all the Chinese brands. Last year, more than 70 percent of phones sold in China were BeiDou-enabled.

The full commissioning of the complete BeiDou network is an enormous technical achievement for China that will pay off for decades to come.

Source: BeiDou

8 comments
BlueOak
An interesting situation - competition in GPS services. From a commercial perspective, seemingly a good thing, to keep everyone on an even keel cost-wise. And to drive improved accuracy as well.
buzzclick
That's really impressive how China has moved forward on so many levels. There's nothing like competition and threats to give one incentive to match and even surpass what other players are doing. Both China and Russia are moving full speed ahead. Question is, what's America going to do next?
Username
It's sad how humans just can't cooperate on global level endeavors.
BlueOak
@Username, competition between companies and/or countries drives far better solutions than feeble global one-govt/UN-style attempts.
Username
@BlueOak Viewing competition as the best driver of innovation is just buying into the extreme capitalist propaganda. Many compagnies waste time and resources having internal departments competing each other. John Nash got a Nobel prize for showing that cooperation yields better results. Also your binary option is a false one. There can be global cooperation without governments involved. As far as the UN is concerned, it is so ineffectual because it actually is not an single authoritave body of it's own.
Jb Browrn
I map individual tombstones for a project. 40 ft accuracy not good. Where can l buy a phone?
BlueOak
@Username, wow, I happily live in a country not bound by your proven failed Socialist-Marxist anti-free market propaganda.

You’re likely typing your responses on a device that would never had existed without free market capitalism and the quest to earn money as compensation for hard and creative work.

I detest govt-crony-capitalism - in fact, big corporations who love and can afford heavy govt regulation that prevents new businesses from competing is *not* capitalism In the first place.

So celebrate the little-person hating one world govt goals you hope for, but we’ll have none of it, thank you. The bigger the govt, the smaller the people.
bwana4swahili
More junk in space...