Beidou System: A carbon copy of GPS launched in China
China Satellite Navigation Office has revealed that Beidou system’s performance was equivalent to GPS as the system started providing services to civilians in the region today and is expected to provide global coverage in seven years time. Signals from The Beidou can be received in countries such as my home country of Australia and New Zealand. The Beidou system comprises 16 navigation satellites and four experimental satellites.CSNO added that the system would ultimately provide global navigation, positioning and timing services.The start of commercial services comes a year after Beidou, which literally means the Big Dipper in Chinese began a limited positioning service for China and adjacent areas.
China began building the network in 2000 to avoid relying on GPS.Having a satellite navigation system is of great strategic significance.It is the latest accomplishment in space technology for China, which aims to build a space station by the end of the decade and eventually send a manned mission to the moon. China views the multi-billion-dollar program as an indication of its rising global stature, growing technical expertise, and the Communist Party’s success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-ridden country. I spoke to a close friend who is an expert of GPS technology in Oslo, Norway and according to him China is a huge market and he expects that Beidou system could benefit civilians and the large Chinese military.
He explained to me on an email that should the Beidou break into profits, the system will become a global navigation satellite system and that would mean competition for GPS. He also thinks Beidou growth means it will eat into GPS’s current 95 per cent market share in China but also admits that for Beidou to make significant inroads into the market outside China in next ten years is highly unlikely.In an Economist Magazine special report about China rise as a Military super power mid this year which I read,the Chinese government sees satellite navigation was seen as one of China’s strategic emerging industries.Also, I have a feeling that this is another doomed project by the Chinese government and main reason is that GPS is freely available, highly accessed and is well-known and trusted by the world at large and penetrating into the already captured markets will not be easy. GPS is well known and its brand recognition has successfully fought off other challenges. Even in developing regions like Africa people knows GPS very well and therefore Beidou brand will be hard sell. I also have a feeling like many others that the main reason for China to develop Beidou is to protect its own national security given the possibility US-controlled GPS could be cut off.The rise of China as a military power and key player in global politics increases the possibility they could be denied access to GPS and I feel this will inspires other nations uncomfortable with world last remaining super power to develop their own system that would be free of control by the United States. All in all,I have a feeling that no matter what China’s new development fanatics think, I see Beidou as a carbon copy of GPS, and a system full of limitations.