China Set to Complete BeiDou Navigation Network Rivalling US Owned GPS
The Chinese Beidou navigation network will be concluded this month when its final satellite travels into space, providing China greater liberation from U.S.-owned GPS and heating competition in a division long ruled by the United States.
The idea to develop Beidou, or the Big Dipper in Chinese, took shape in the 1990s as the military sought to reduce reliance on the Global Positioning System (GPS) run by the U.S. Air Force.
When the primary Beidou satellites were launched in 2000, coverage was narrowed to China. As the adoption of mobile devices increased, China in 2003 attempted to join the Galileo satellite navigation project introduced by the European Union but later drew out to concentrate on Beidou.
In the time of the iPhone, the second generation of Beidou satellites gone operational in 2012, spreading services to the Asia-Pacific.
China began deploying the third generation of satellites aimed toward global coverage in 2015. The 35th and final Beidou-3 satellite are going to be launched this month – the day has yet to be announced – meaning Beidou has more satellites in its system than GPS’s 31, and quite Galileo and Russia’s GLONASS.
With an approximated $10 billion investment, Beidou retains the communications network of the Chinese military secure, avoiding the risk of disruption to GPS within the greatest event of a dispute.
Weapons targeting and guidance also improves. When complete, Beidou’s location services are accurate right down to 10 cm within the Asia-Pacific, compared with GPS’s 30-cm range.
“Beidou was designed a few decades after GPS, so it has benefited from the GPS experience,” said Andrew Dempster, director of the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research.
“It has remarkable signals that have larger bandwidth, providing more reliable accuracy. It has less orbit planes for the satellites, making constellation maintenance easier.”
Beidou-related services like port traffic monitoring and disaster mitigation are exported to about 120 countries, state media reported.
Many of these countries are involved within the Belt and Road initiative, spearheaded by President Xi Jinping to make a modern-day Silk Road.
In a 2019 report, the U.S. congressional U.S.-China Economic and censoring Commission warned that China promoted launch services, satellites, and Beidou under its “Space Silk Road” to deepen reliance on China for space-based services, potentially at the expense of U.S. influence.
Thailand and Pakistan were the first foreign countries to check-in for Beidou’s services in 2013.
Within China, quite 70% of mobile phones were Beidou-enabled as of 2019, state media reported, including models made by Huawei [HWT.UL], Oppo, Xiaomi, Vivo, and Samsung.
Millions of taxis, buses, and trucks were also ready to receive Beidou signals. State media stated China’s satellite navigation sector might be the top 400 billion yuan ($57 billion) in worth this year. Ahead of the Beidou-3 completion, satellite-related stocks have towered.
Beijing BDStar Navigation Co, which manufactures chips that collect Beidou signals, has risen 34.4% this year. Hwa Create leaped 52.3%, outpacing the 7.6% gain in the Shenzhen benchmark.