Rise of China’s Indigenous Navigation System Beidou spawning a $36bn Industry

The rising trend in usage of China’s Indigenous Navigation System ‘Beidou’ over the commonly used Global Positioning System (GPS) could soon overturn the existing scenario. Last year, China’s native satellite navigation system grabbed less than 20 of the domestic GPS market share. But with the rising trend, Beidou is expected to grow its share to 60 by 2020.


Once only reserved for People’s Liberation Army, the space-based navigation system was opened to civilians in 2011 in cooperation with Sichuan Jiuzhou Electric Group. The Indigenously developed satellite positioning system is fuelling the rapidly growing range of domestic businesses in the field GPS tracking.

The system has been developed over a period 23 years with initial foundations laid in 1994. 23 Twenty-three satellites are already space-bound and a further twelve satellites are planned to be launched by the end of 2020. The system initially operated as a limited test system in 2000 and a full-scale global navigation system is currently in the making. ‘Beidou’ is set to span the globe by 2020 with the launch of its 35th satellite, the last piece of Beidou’s satellite constellation.

The coverage provided by twenty-three satellites is already being used to guide 50,000 ships, 4 million buses, 25 million cars and 150 million smartphone users. In the commercial and private sector, the system is mainly used for ship navigation, monitoring of public buses and firefighting vehicles. By 2020, it is estimated that market for products and services that depend on Beidou Navigation System will shoot up to 240 billion yuan ($36.9 billion), which is four times the size of current market size.