China Plan 2020 World Satnav Coverage
China's navigation system BeiDou (with 16 satellites up at present) is expected to achieve full-scale global coverage by around 2020.
The BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) will then be able to provide highly accurate and reliable positioning, navigation and timing service with the aid of a constellation of 35 satellites, reports Xinhua.
China started to build up its own space-based Positioning, Navigation and Timing system in 2000 by launching the first satellite for an experimental version of the BeiDou which has since started providing licensed services for China's government and military users in transport, weather forecasts, fishing, forestry, telecommunications, hydrological monitoring and mapping.
To compete with foreign rivals, the BeiDou terminal can communicate with the ground station by sending and receiving short messages, 120 Chinese characters in each, in addition to the navigation and timing functions that the world's other major navigation systems can provide.