Will Chinese BDS be better than American GPS and Russian GLONASS?

The Chinese Satellite Navigation System, the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, simplified to BDS, uses two different satellite constellation systems for its operation. One is a test system that is limited and been in operation since the year 2000. The other is a global navigation system that is being currently constructed.

BDS offers various applications to users such as navigation services for Chinese customers and also in the Asia-Pacific region. There are plans to serve Global customers as well, most likely by the year 2020. The BDS system is better known as COMPASS and has a total of 21 satellites in operation, as of July 2016. The BeiDou System is generating a whopping $31.5 Billion in revenue for companies in China, such as China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, China North Industries Group and AutoNavi Holdings.

The BeiDou System was used during the 2008 Earthquake of Sichuan to provide information in and around the disaster area. Chinese border guards in the Yunnan province also make use of BDS devices for navigation purposes. The system also supports short message services (SMS).

Range signals make use of the CDMA architecture for data propagation and it has two security levels of service, one for the public which is open and unencrypted and the other for military which is restricted and encrypted. The military service has been used by the PLA ( People’s Liberation Army ) and by the Pakistan Military. BDS provides timing data, navigation and positioning coordinates to China and the nearby regions of Asia-Pacific free of cost.

The system is migrating towards Global coverage by launching more sophisticated, next generation satellites capable of handling advanced data calculations. Unlike GPS, BDS offers telecommunication services, by way of text messages (SMS). China is relying on the success of BDS for independent navigation services for military and civilian use that provide accurate positioning and timing data for the guidance of missiles, fighter jets, and large aircraft carriers / warships.

GLONASS (Globalnaya navigatsionnaya sputnikovaya sistema) or Global Navigation Satellite System is Russia’s satellite navigation system and is similar in many ways to GPS. It is handled and operated entirely by the Russian Aerospace Defence Force. It does not have as high an accuracy rate as GPS because it was designed to provide information more efficiently at Northern latitudes. GLONASS stations can be found in Antartica and Brazil, whereas GPS has stations around the globe giving it better coverage.

It must be noted that Russia and China have signed an agreement for navigation cooperation to increase the compatibility and interoperation between BDS and GLONASS. This will provide a more robust satellite navigation system with each architecture filling in the gaps of the other and jointly reaching further regions of the Globe. This should be the impetus for GPS to strengthen their own services in the U.S. and around the world if they decide to go up against the might of China’s BeiDou System.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) of U.S. and the Russian GLONASS use intermediate circular orbit satellites while the Chinese BDS (BeiDou System) uses geostationary orbiting satellites. The advantage of using a GeoStationary satellite is that it does not need a large system of satellites as far as numbers go. However, the coverage is limited to areas where the geostationary satellite is visible. What do you think? Will BDS be more superior to GPS and GLONASS?

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