WINGS SPREAD

Satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem wel­comes re­gional users

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - BY ZHAO HUANXIN zhao­huanxin@chi­nadaily.com.cn Wang Ying in Shang­hai con­trib­uted to this story.

The world can ex­pect to use China’s “re­li­able” global po­si­tion­ing and nav­i­ga­tion ser­vices for free by 2020, the di­rec­tor of the coun­try’s satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion of­fice said on Fri­day.

“The Beidou Nav­i­ga­tion Satel­lite Sys­tem is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing ser­vices to the whole world — cur­rently for the Asia-Pa­cific — for free,” said Ran Chengqi, di­rec­tor of the China Satel­lite Nav­i­ga­tion Of­fice.

The of­fice re­leased two doc­u­ments to spec­ify China’s home­grown nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem’s open ser­vice per­for­mance stan­dard and to fa­cil­i­tate re­search and de­vel­op­ment of var­i­ous ter­mi­nals for global users.

Af­ter de­ploy­ing 16 satel­lites since 2000, the coun­try will be­gin launch­ing newer nav­i­ga­tion satel­lites near the end of 2014, Ran said at a news con­fer­ence.

In six to eight years, the num­ber of satel­lites that will be launched is ex­pected to grow to 40 to form a con­stel­la­tion as cov­er­age ex­pands glob­ally, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from Ran’s of­fice.

Th­ese satel­lites, with en­hanced func­tions, will have a life­span of up to 15 years. The satel­lites cur­rently in use work for about eight years.

By its com­ple­tion in about 2020, the global Beidou sys­tem is ex­pected to im­prove the po­si­tion­ing ac­cu­racy from the cur­rent 10 me­ters to about 2.5 me­ters, he said.

“Satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion is an im­por­tant part of a coun­try’s in­fra­struc­ture, and it’s cer­tainly a com­bined civil­ian and mil­i­tary in­fra­struc­ture,” Ran said, adding the com­ple­tion of the Beidou sys­tem should con­trib­ute to na­tional de­fense.

With the sup­port of ground-based aug­men­ta­tion net­works, the sys­tem’s po­si­tion­ing pre­ci­sion could be fur­ther im­proved to the level of cen­time­ters rather than me­ters, he added.

The 16 nav­i­ga­tion satel­lites that have been sent in­clude two ex­per­i­men­tal ones. The other 14 satel­lites op­er­ate on or­bits of dif­fer­ent al­ti­tudes, en­abling the Beidou sys­tem to work for ar­eas with val­leys, mul­ti­ple lay­ers of fly­overs and re­gions densely shaded by trees, Ran said.

“Ap­pli­ca­tion of the Beidou sys­tem is even bet­ter in ASEAN coun­tries than in China,” he said. For ex­am­ple, users in Thai­land could have ac­cess to ser­vices from all of the 14 op­er­a­tional satel­lites, with po­si­tion­ing ac­cu­racy reach­ing 5 me­ters.

The Beidou sys­tem is com­pat­i­ble with mul­ti­ple nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems, in­clud­ing the Global Po­si­tion­ing Sys­tem of the United States, Rus­sia’s Glonass and the Euro­pean Union’s Galileo. Users will no longer have to rely on a sin­gle ser­vice, he said ear­lier.

Since it be­gan to serve the Asi­aPa­cific a year ago, the Chi­nese po­si­tion­ing sys­tem has been well re­ceived by for­eign cus­tomers, Ran said.

Users in Europe have found ter­mi­nals that have ac­cess to both the Beidou sys­tem and GPS are more re­li­able and help­ful, Ran said.

“Even though we still do not pro­vide global cov­er­age, its ap­pli­ca­tions are al­ready spread­ing world­wide,” he said.

Do­mes­ti­cally, the Beidou sys­tem, with its unique short mes­sag­ing ser­vice, has been sought af­ter among users in fish­ing, trans­port, agri­cul­ture, weather ser­vice and dis­as­ter relief, Ran said.

He es­ti­mated the num­ber of Beidou nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem chips for civil­ian use will reach a mil­lion by the end of this year.

Mo­bile phones em­bed­ded with the Beidou sys­tem’s nav­i­ga­tion chips will be avail­able at the be­gin­ning of the year, he said.

Liu Qixu, di­rec­tor of the China Satel­lite Nav­i­ga­tion Ap­pli­ca­tion Man­age­ment Center, said the over­all per­for­mance of the Chi­nese sys­tem has been bet­ter than de­signed, and a dozen of mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions have been set up to de­tect prob­lems and eval­u­ate ser­vices.

The nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem in­dus­try has out­per­formed most other in­dus­tries in the past year, said Yu Wenx­ian, a pro­fes­sor at Shang­hai Jiao Tong Univer­sity. “Bet­ter recog­ni­tion of the Beidou sys­tem among Chi­nese has brought the whole in­dus­try great op­por­tu­nity, and a grow­ing num­ber of do­mes­tic, as well as over­seas com­pa­nies, have started to make their prod­ucts com­pat­i­ble with Beidou’s sys­tem,” said Yu.

The Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Com­mis­sion of Shang­hai said in­vest­ments of sev­eral hun­dred mil­lion yuan had been poured into Shang­hai’s nav­i­ga­tion in­dus­try to date.

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