China launches rival GPS

China has launched commercial and public services across the Asia-Pacific region on its domestic satellite navigation network built to rival the US global positioning system.

The Beidou system started providing services to civilians in the region on December 27 and is expected to provide global coverage by 2020.

The Beidou system comprises 16 navigation satellites and four experimental satellites, and would ultimately provide global navigation, positioning and timing services.

The start of commercial services comes a year after Beidou started offering a limited positioning service for China and adjacent areas.

China began building the network in 2000 to avoid relying on GPS.


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