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Beidou, China's home-grown GPS, now active

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China's own GPS system, known as Beidou, is now operational after more than a decade of satellite launches and tests. The country expectrs Beidou to create a ¥400B market based on usage in the automotive, telecommunications, and fishing industries.

Beidou China Navigation System
Beidou China Navigation System

China's own global positioning system, known as Beidou, is now operating after more than a decade of satellite launches and tests. The country began building out Beidou in 2000 and plans to have 35 satellites powering its system, also known as Compass, by 2020. Beidou currently runs on 10 satellites, with six more planned to go up in 2012 to provide coverage over most of Asia. This would give China the third GPS system operating, along with the US-built GPS and Russian's Glonass network.

The country expects Beidou to create a 400 billion Yuan market (around $61 billion US), but some believe that military implications are the biggest driver behind this system's launch. Once the system is fully online, the country will be far less dependent on US-controlled GPS technology for things like missile guidance. Defense Policy believes that this system could give China a significant strategic military advantage in the region, specifically a combination of drones and anti-ship missiles that would help defend against naval threats (like US aircraft carriers).

As for non-military purposes, China's fishing industry is expected to benefit significantly from this system, as well as transportation, meteorology, and telecommunications. Consumers are already able to purchase auto navigation devices running on both Beidou and existing GPS technologies that also include support for SMS, and the China Meterological Observation Center plans to use the system for forecasting by 2013.