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Invitation for The 9th China International Satcom 2011
The 9th China International Satcom 2011





Countdown to a new GPS

A salesman demonstrates how to operate the Beidou navigation system for drivers at a trade market in Ningbo, in East China's Zhejiang province. As part of its efforts to establish an independent satellite navigation system, in 2000 the Chinese government launched the first Beidou system, which is to offer services to customers across the Asia-Pacific region by 2012 and globally by 2020. (Photo / China Daily)

In China's dynamic high technology industry dominated by young entrepreneurs in their 20s and 30s, 59-year-old Lu Jianguang might seem out of place. But he is involved in a business that perhaps only the more elderly can best understand - "selling time".

As the president of Beijing Guozhiheng Power Management Technology, one of the first companies to provide a civilian service based on China's Beidou navigation system, Lu's job is to sell devices that can measure time to a nanosecond - one billionth of a second.

By tracing and synchronizing time to such a precise level, Lu's products ensure the safety of many electricity power stations, telecom carriers and even financial institutions.

"Many of China's key industries rely on the global positioning system (GPS), which was developed and is controlled by the United States," said Lu.

He said because the GPS system service in China is free and unreliable, there will be a huge market for China's own navigation system in commercial areas.

As part of its efforts to establish an independent satellite navigation system, in 2000 the Chinese government launched the first Beidou system, which consists of three satellites with limited coverage and applications.

The government plans to upgrade the system to offer services to customers in the Asia-Pacific region by 2012 and globally by 2020.

Lu said just as the launch of the GPS system in the 1990s created a huge market across the world, the development of Beidou will also foster a huge market in China.

"In the auto navigation market alone, the GPS system created a 60 billion yuan ($11 billion) industry in China last year," said Lu. He estimated the market would reach 150 billion yuan by 2015.

The United States government controls the export of some civilian GPS receivers and has a history of disrupting or paralyzing foreign GPS services for military or political reasons.

That prompted many regions and countries, including the European Union, Russia and China, to develop their own satellite navigation systems.

China aims to have at least 10 Beidou navigation satellites in orbit before 2012 to cover the Asia-Pacific region and the final global system will consist of 35 satellites.

Lu said his company is expected to see explosive growth next year when China's Beidou system finishes its coverage in Asia-Pacific, which will mean the system will be able to provide reliable services for civilian use.

Lu said his company's major business came from Chinese electricity power stations, which require perfect synchronizing of time to assure the safety of high electricity voltage transmission. He estimates that the business can bring in about 300 million yuan in revenue for his company this year.

Currently, the Beidou system is mainly used for military navigation and to monitor agriculture and fisheries, as well as for big engineering projects. China has said that it will start to offer a GPS service aimed at drivers in 2012.

Liu Jingnan, a world renowned GPS technology specialist, said at a GPS conference that the cost of the new Beidou GPS chips will be lower than chips in the US.

Lu said as China's Beidou system becomes more mature, there will be an increasing number of civilian services in China and even in some overseas markets.

He added that his company also expanded in the telecom and financial markets, which also require accurate measurement of time.

Source: China Daily

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