China on 27 December 2013 welcomed the Asian countries to use its home grown BeiDou Navigation System for navigation system for free.
China is intended to widen the use of its home grown BeiDou Navigation System, which already has 16 satellites. China is keen to develop BeiDou satellite as an alternative to the American Global Positioning System (GPS) and Russian GLONASS.
GPS has been active since the 1970s and has satellites in orbit. The satellites have been operating for more than two decades. BeiDou launched the first of its current generation satellites only five years ago.
GPS (Global Positioning System) comprises 30 satellites, while BeiDou already has over sixteen and is going to have another forty in orbit by the time the network is complete in 2020, at a cost of another 6 billion dollar.
The greater the number of satellites, the easier it is for the system to calculate location, time and velocity of moving objects.
In this scenario, China offers the use of its satellite for free to its neighbouring countries on the lines of American GPS. The focus will be on countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and particularly in South and Southeast Asia, where the satellites has offered the highest accuracy.
China is developing Stations in Pakistan to improve the service there.
By January 2014, Thailand will become the first country in 2014 to build a satellite station based on BeiDou, with both countries signing a 319 million dollar deal.
The successful deployment of BeiDou means the increasingly potent Chinese armed forces will have an accurate, independent navigation system. It has a vital technology for guiding the missiles, warships and attack aircraft that allow Beijing to claim great power status.
The system, which was first launched in 2011 for use only by the government and military, has over the past year begun to be widely deployed for civilian uses domestically.
Currently, 80 per cent of passenger buses and trucks in China are using the system. The Chinese State Council, or Cabinet, said in a September report that the domestic satellite navigation industry would be valued at 400 billion Yuan i.e. 4 lakh crore rupees by 2020.
BeiDou is the only satellite navigation system that offers telecommunication services. That means that, apart from giving users location and time information, BeiDou can also send users’ information to other people and communicate with users via text messages.
China launched the first satellite for the BeiDou system in 2000 and a preliminary version of the system has been used in traffic control, weather forecasting and disaster relief work on a trial basis, since 2003.
More than 1000 BeiDou terminals were used after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake to provide information from the disaster area. The system was also used during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2010 Shanghai Expo to pinpoint traffic congestion and supervise venues.
The global satellite navigation segment has become a crowded marketplace over the past decade, and looks to become even more so. Russia recently completed its constellation of Glonass satellites (though it has since lost one). Europe is unrolling its Galileo system, while other countries such as India and Japan plan to develop at least regional navigation networks.
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