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China’s BeiDou system begins its global service

Updated: Dec 28,2018 10:30 AM     CGTN

China has completed the construction of BeiDou-3 primary system and BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) and started providing its global services.

The announcement was made by Ran Chengqi, director of China Satellite Navigation Office and BDS spokesperson at a news conference on Dec 27.

“The BeiDou system has expanded its service scope from regional to the whole world,” said Ran, and the system “officially will enter a global era”.

BDS is a global satellite navigation system built and operated independently by China. Compatible with other satellite navigation systems in the world, it can provide global users with high-precision and reliable positioning, navigation and timing services all day.

The current BeiDou system is built upon the BeiDou-2 satellites constellation. The 14-satellite constellation was completed in 2012 and capable of providing regional positioning services within the Asia-Pacific region. According to Chinese officials, the BeiDou system is capable of providing positioning services with an accuracy within 10 meters, but accuracy in the Asia-Pacific region can be less than five meters. Its velocity accuracy is 0.2 meters per second, and its timing accuracy stands at 20 nanoseconds.

A stride, a new start

China’s BDS is the fourth navigation satellites system in the world to cover the whole planet, after the United States’ GPS, Russia’s GLONASS, and European Union’s Galileo. The other three systems have been in operation for decades.

Providing a global service is a big leap for BDS, and also a new start for its development, said Ran.

China started the construction of BeiDou system in the 1990s, and provided services to the Asia-Pacific region in 2012. Now, countries and regions including those along the Belt and Road are all covered by its service.

A total of 19 BeiDou-3 satellites during 10 missions were sent into space between November 2017 and November 2018, setting a new record in the world’s navigation system construction history.

“China will send 11 BeiDou-3 satellites and one BeiDou-2 satellite by 2020 to build a complete global network and further improve the services performance,” Ran said. “When the entire system is completed by 2020, its accuracy will be doubled.”

By 2035, a more ubiquitous, integrated and smarter positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) system with BDS as the core is expected to be established.

A major achievement since China’s reform and opening-up

BDS has also become one of the most important achievements from China’s reform and opening-up in the past 40 years, and has been widely used in various industries.

Over 14,000 institutions with more than 500,000 employees are working to provide satellite navigation and positioning services. The technology of BeiDou chips has entered a new era of 28 nanometers from 0.35 micron, and the number of the country’s satellite navigation patent applications has reached 54,000, ranking the world’s first.

BDS has entered markets such as transportation and marine fishery. There are 6.17 million road operating vehicles, 35,600 postal and express vehicles, and 80,000 buses in 36 central cities utilizing BDS, as well as 3,230 inland river navigation facilities and 2,960 maritime navigation facilities.

The newly-opened Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge also uses it to ensure safe operations.

BDS is also used in large-scale applications on smartphones. Furthermore, intelligent-driving vehicles based on the BDS high-precision service are expected to be launched in 2019.

Fields including smart city, disaster reduction and relief, agriculture, forestry, meteorological environment, and precise machine control are all its beneficiaries, producing significant economic and social outcomes.

Meanwhile, it wins wide recognition overseas with Asian, African, and European countries purchasing BeiDou products.