China's global navigation satellite system, Compass, will provide regional service in 2011 with a constellation of 12 satellites, a navigation industry insider said Thursday.
China aims to make Compass a navigation satellite system of 35 satellites by 2020, which can offer global service.
Compass, or Beidou (Big Dipper) in Chinese, is expected to rival the US-developed GPS, the EU's GPS and Russia's Global Navigation Satellite System, earlier reports said.
Officials representing the four systems are now in negotiations to make their civilian-use technologies compatible, Hu Gang, vice-president of Beijing BDStar Navigation Co Ltd, said during a two-day national geological information industry summit that ended yesterday.
"This could possibly allow a civilian user of global navigation satellite system to have access to more than 120 navigation satellites in the future, which will assure stability and improve accuracy," he said.
The 12 satellites that will be part of the Compass program's first phase will "improve the positioning accuracy of the satellite navigation system greatly", he said.
Only two Compass satellites have been reportedly launched into orbit so far - one in 2007 and the other in April this year, he said.
According to the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, which sponsored the summit, the satellite navigation industry is estimated to generate 50 billion yuan ($8 billion) in China by 2010, up from the 12 billion yuan in 2006.
Cao Chong, chief engineer of the China Electronics Technology Group Corp, said the car industry and the cell phone industry will be the major players of satellite navigation applications.
"China still has a huge potential for satellite navigation application, as only less than 5 percent of cars have installed navigation devices," he said.