China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System officially kicked off its services in the Asia-Pacific region on Thursday, with the head of the China Satellite Navigation Office saying it is now mature enough to compete with the US-run GPS.
Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office, Thursday told a press conference that BeiDou will provide the Asia-Pacific region with services including positioning, navigation, timing and short messages for China and the surrounding areas.
The service will be provided with a positioning accuracy of 10 meters, velocity accuracy of 0.2 meters per second and one-way timing accuracy of 50 nanoseconds.
As an important space infrastructure project, the Chinese government has invested dozens of billion yuan into the current satellite navigation system and will invest around 40 billion yuan ($6.4 billion) in the next 10 years, according to Ran.
"We started BeiDou trial operations last year while the network was still in construction because China wanted to send a signal that the country is willing to start the system as early as possible and is open to cooperation," Ran noted, adding that the BeiDou system is a huge boost for both military use and domestic services.
The satellite navigation industry has been recommended as one of the strategic emerging industries by the National Development and Reform Commission and was written into the country's 12th Five-Year Plan.
"We are working on constructing global coverage. In the next 10 years, we have around 40 more satellites to launch, starting in 2014," Ran told the Global Times at the press conference, adding that the launch schedule will be adjusted in accordance with the needs of the system.
The country has launched 16 satellites as part of the BeiDou system since 2000.
It's been a whole year since BeiDou launched its trial service and plans have strictly followed the "three-step" schedule, which aimed to establish a demonstration system in 2000, offer regional services by 2012 and a global services by 2020.
Ran said the current market for satellite navigation systems is 120 billion yuan and BeiDou is expected to take 15 to 20 percent of the domestic market share by 2015 and hopes for over 70 percent by 2020.
The GPS dominates 95 percent of the Chinese market due to lack of competition, but as BeiDou matures, it will gain more market share, Sun Jiadong, chief engineer of the BeiDou system, told the 21st Century Business Herald.
"How to manage and operate the BeiDou system is the key. We have developed a system to allow maintenance of default satellites without interfering with the operations of other satellites. We also have routine checks to make sure problems can be solved in real time," Yang Baofeng, director of the China National Administration of Global Navigation Satellite System and Applications, told the press conference on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the BeiDou logo was also officially released at the press conference.