China’s Beidou satellite navigation system to go global and create $300 billion market by 2020

China’s answer to GPS could produce RMB 2 trillion in new value through navigation- and location-based services.

Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

China has set its sights for the homegrown Beidou satellite navigation system – its answer to the U.S.-led GPS – to provide global coverage by 2020, with an estimated RMB 2 trillion (around USD 290 billion) market to be created in areas relevant to the navigation system, including transportation, precision agriculture, marine monitoring, and smart city, etc, Shenzhen Economic Daily reported.

Beidou is one of the world’s four global navigation satellite systems—alongside the US Global Positioning System (GPS), Europe’s Galileo, and Russia’s Glonass—and part of China’s broader ambition under Made in China 2025 to become a leader in space and related technologies.

China’s homegrown smartphone manufacturers—namely, best-sellers like Huawei, Xiaomi, HTC, Meizu, and OnePlus—are compatible with Beidou in addition to GPS and Glonass. And in April 2018, around 4.8 million commercial vehicles in China had been equipped with Beidou, comprising the world’s largest collection of internet-connected vehicles, according to People’s Daily.

Beidou’s global rollout was announced ahead of schedule in December 2018. At the time, China had launched 19 positioning satellites and shipped over 70 million Beidou systems—including microchips and modules—domestically and to more than 90 countries.

The satellite system now services all countries along the Belt and Road, an infrastructure development initiative led by the Chiese government, spanning Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa.

The system currently has an accuracy of 5 meters in Asia-Pacific and 10 meters in other parts of the world, whereas America’s GPS system is accurate to the centimeter.