China's navigation system aims to compete with US GPS network
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K J M Varma
China's indigenously-made satellite navigation system today started offering its services to users domestically and in neighbouring Asian countries, a multi- billion market currently dominated by the US GPS network.
"We hope industries based on the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) will hold 15 to 20 per cent of the market share by 2015," BDS spokesman Ran Chengqi, also director of the China Satellite Navigation Office told journalists here.
Ran said BDS aims to take 70 to 80 per cent of the whopping USD 19 billion domestic market by 2020.
The official said BDS began providing positioning, navigation, timing and short message services to civilian users in China and surrounding areas in the Asia-Pacific region from today.
Ran said the general functionality and performance of the BDS is "comparable" to the American Global Positioning System (GPS).
The BDS offers more conveniences for navigation system users with equipment that is compatible with multiple navigation systems, as they will no longer have to rely on a single service, Ran said.
A 2011 report said 95 per cent of satellite navigation equipment in China relied on GPS services, while industrial statistics show that the total output of China's navigation service sector will top 120 billion yuan (USD 19.2 billion) in 2012.
China launched the first satellite for the BDS 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.