back to article Pakistan signs up for China's GPS rival

China’s home-grown sat-nav system Beidou (BDS) is expected to add yet another customer after Pakistan signed up to host ground stations for the service. Pakistan will follow Thailand, Laos and Brunei in becoming a Beidou customer later this month, according to China Daily. Huang Lei, international business director of Beijing …

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Anonymous Coward

Nothing wrong

A bit of competition always helps in keeping others on their toes and improve services.

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Re: Nothing wrong

And any system having a backup is a good idea. Nobody says that they will use the China / US / Europe / Russian systems EXCLUSIVELY. I doubt even the Russians would. It only makes sense to get as many satellites on as many systems with as much precision and coverage as possible when you want to fix your position reliably.

As although we're told the US won't be "downgrading" GPS any time soon, it still makes sense to take account of system failure (or them just flat-out-lying) and use the other systems at the same time.

I am kind of holding back on my next sat-nav update because I want to get one that at least does Galileo as well as GPS, if not more.

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Re: Nothing wrong

My phone (Sony Xperia V) does GPS + GLONASS. I suspect most modern smartphones will. I've been very impressed with it's location fix speed and accuracy. No idea how much the GLONASS bit is helping with that though.

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Re: Nothing wrong

The accuracy of GLONASS on its own is around the same as GPS, slightly better in polar regions, not quite so good near the equator. However if you use both together, it is about twice as accurate as using just one of them. Also, you have twice as many birds in the sky to look at, so you will get a fix more quickly.

Certainly, I notice a huge improvement in my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 which uses both GPS and GLONASS vs my old first generation Galaxy S which uses only GPS.

Most smartphones now support both because if they do, they avoid a higher import duty when selling them to the Russian market.

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As although we're told the US won't be "downgrading" GPS any time soon

Again, presuming the truth is told, isn't GPS's "Selective Availablility" (the pushbutton downgrade) not even a feature of the current satelite fleet?

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Thumb Up

Pakistan is a natural Client: More the merrier

Since politics and control play an active part in a satellite navigation system, there is little surprise here. Four world systems should be sufficient - Chinese; European; Russian and the USA. It would unlikely all four would be involved in a single 'incident' where they would all degrade their signals concurrently.

As China and India have had ongoing border disputes for over 20 years, likely India will not be a party. And whatever India does, Pakistan often chooses an opposing route.

The USA is not shy in degrading GPS signal, so I say the more the merrier.

Here in Indochina it is common to have at least eight GPS satellites 'in sight', even heavy built-up areas get very usable signals out here.

Now we have to see what the GPS receiver manufacturers responses will be with many, of course, being manufactured in CN. Will they embrace the CN cluster?

What will be interesting to watch if the parties adverse to China in the Spratly Island dispute host ground facilities, I know VietNam has some GPS ground facilities, though they are situated in inaccessible areas or signed as military reservations. (These often have signs in English, too). Indonesia and the Phils would no doubt be useful.

And what of Singapore, China's best buddy out there very close (2 degrees) to the equator?

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Strange...

I was sure Pakistan would have gone for the Indian IRNASS system...

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Re: Strange...

indeed, given the well-known, unbreakable period of stability and friendship between the great nations (and leaders) of Pakistan and India, this would have been a no-brainer for both parties ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Strange...

I hope you are joking ?

Otherwise your knowledge of geopolitics is on par with the average septic tank.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Strange...

NB for international visitors septic tank is British cockney slang for Yank (i.e. American)

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Anonymous Coward

Combine them all?

I wonder how accurate you could make a system that uses ALL of the available systems and combines results from them all for greater precision? Any ideas, anyone?

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Re: Combine them all?

GPS or GLONASS on its own gives you about 10 meters accuracy. Both of them together give you about 5 meters accuracy. All four, maybe 2 - 3 meters?

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Re: Combine them all?

Do you have any references to your assumption of accuracy using multiple GPS systems?

As the atmospheric path of the GPS signal and the timing standards can cause problems with accuracy, would this mean that with multiple GPS systems the need for DGPS and/or WAAS (EGNOS) is no longer a requirement?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Combine them all?

Been there, done that...

High end commercial GPS systems for the survey market have combined GPS and GLONASS for years, the newer ones already use all 4 systems. They get called GNSS receivers (Global Navigation Satellite System) to indicate that it's not just GPS any more.

But then high end GPS systems have errors of under 1cm using just GPS anyway so the added benefit isn't really in accuracy. The advantages are in how fast and how reliably you can get the required accuracy rather than how accurate the position ends up being.

Similarly on consumer level equipment adding systems isn't going to make much improvement in accuracy.

A cheap poorly made GPS has an error of around 10m.

Building much the same system using the same parts but taking care to build it well (which adds manufacturing costs and normally makes things larger as shielding takes up space) will get that to between 2 and 5m depending on the satellite locations.

In other words current GPS systems in consumer products aren't really limited by the GPS system. They are limited by compromises in the design process in order to keep the size, shape and costs within the product requirements.

Adding other systems in will have a small improvement and maybe get systems closer to 5m but that's about all. They will make better designed systems more reliably in the 2m range rather than sometimes only getting 5m.

Generally due to the atmospheric and noise issues involved getting under 2m without some sort of correction source is virtually impossible.

A well designed GPS only system using SBAS (space based augmentation system) (WAAS in the USA, EGNOS in europe) can already get under 1m on GPS only under good conditions. As with the other situations adding other positioning systems will not improve that significantly but will make that accuracy more reliable and easier to reach.

But claiming GLONASS, Galileo and Beidou support will look good on the advertising so I'm sure all the smartphones will be adding it soon anyway no matter how minimal the actual benefit ;-)

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Facepalm

China reducing it's reliance on Western technology, while companies over here outsource everything to them. Anyone see a problem with that?

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Silver badge

You might have hit on something there

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Facepalm

China increasing it's reliance on Western markets by copying Western technology, whilst structuring their economy around our companies over here outsourcing everything to them (actually more to India). All of which suggests a more co-operative World without nasty East-vs-West tensions. Anyone see a problem with that?

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Anonymous Coward

"All of which suggests a more co-operative World without nasty East-vs-West tensions. Anyone see a problem with that?"

None, other than the comic lack of reality. No East West tensions, just free love and free trade? Let's ignore the proxy actions (eg China quietly backing the Norks, Yanks supplying weaponry (and promises) to SK, Taiwan, Japan. Or US sabre rattling from bases in the Asian oceans with cold war style fun, such as "fly your bomber to the edge of somebody else's airspace, then come home", military exercises. China disputing maritime boundaries with Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia, Phillipines, Japan, Malaysia etc. Then throw in the ongoing cyberwar, which I'm sure has more than two sides, but involves espionage, sabotage, and simple commercial theft both by and against China. And we should of course ignore the geo-politics where China shows exactly the same attitudes as the Ruskies. And then you've got the reports that China is building its first indigenous aircraft carrier, with ambitions to build more. Maybe the can give it a name that means "Peace & Hope"?

Maybe you think that an emerging Chinese military will be a good counter to the US monopoly in military capability, but the Russians used to present a balance of sorts, and I'd hesitate to describe that as "a cooperative world".

Anyway, you're usually shilling for Israel. Have the Chinese come in with a better offer?

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FAIL

Re: AC

"None, other than the comic lack of reality. No East West tensions, just free love and free trade?....." I would suggest you go read up on the Sixties and East-West relations, then you might realise that China has moved a lot closer to the rest of the World. I didn't say China had become the perfect World citizen (which country is?), but a China with overseas investments and trade is less likely to back even the crazy Norks should they decide to invade South Korea.

"....you're usually shilling for Israel......" Aw, still crying from another thread you couldn't handle a few facts in? Grow up.

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Anonymous Coward

"All the better to see you with my dear": Big Red Chinese Wolf.

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Can someone please explain

How can a few satellites of a global system be accurate in one region of the Earth ?

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Re: Can someone please explain

EM 1110-1-1003

1 July 2003

US Army Corps

of Engineers

ENGINEERING AND DESIGN

NAVSTAR Global Positioning

System Surveying

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Bronze badge

particular military significance

Um, military conflict happens because of commercial interests.

There has always been the conflicting theory that military conflicts are independent of commercial interests, but generally that is considered pretty lame and far-fetched.

So let us just say:

"in this case the US-led GPS, because satellite navigation is of particular" commercial significance in the event of a commercial conflict

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