China turns on navigation system over Asia that rivals GPS

The Beidou system is to have 35 satellites in operation by 2020.

China’s Beidou Navigation Satellite System, a rival to GPS, now provides coverage of most of the Asia-Pacific region, Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office told reporters at a press conference in Beijing today.

China launched its first Beidou satellite in 2000. It now has 16 in orbit and expects to have 35 satellites in operation for global coverage by 2020. Chengqi said Beidou provides 10-meter position accuracy today, compared to better than 3-meter accuracy for high quality GPS receivers.

China intends to use Beidou to jump start a domestic receiver industry and today it released specifications in both Chinese and English to guide manufacturers in development of receiver chipsets. The value of the market for satellite navigation receiver chipsets -- including those used in mobile phones -- is expected to hit $3.3 billion a year by 2016.