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Pakistan to become navigation system's fourth overseas user
China's Beidou navigation system is set to increase its presence in the Asia-Pacific region, with Pakistan expected to become its fourth overseas customer later this month.
Huang Lei, international business director of Beijing BDStar Navigation, which helps promote Beidou, or Compass, in the international market, told China Daily the company will build a network of stations in Pakistan to enhance the location accuracy of Beidou.
These continuously operational reference stations will be built after the two countries sign a cooperation agreement, which will see Pakistan follow in the footsteps of Thailand, Laos and Brunei in becoming a Beidou customer.
Huang said building the network will cost tens of millions of dollars.
The system has been delivering services for the Asia-Pacific region since December, with the aim of providing a global service by 2020. The Beidou network has 16 navigation satellites over the region, with 30 more due to join the system by 2020.
Huang said foreign aid programs and cooperation agreements are the main ways to promote Beidou in the international market.
China National Radio reported in April that under a 2 billion yuan ($317 million) agreement with Thailand, the system's first foreign user, China will build a national remote sensing system based on Beidou for Thailand. It will also build a large satellite ground station with an industrial park for the development and production of Beidou receivers for the wider Southeast Asian market.
Similar deals were signed with Laos and Brunei in late April. Laos will adopt Beidou in developing the country's agriculture, and to crack down on opium cultivation, while Brunei will use Beidou in building a modern capital, according to China's Ministry of Science and Technology.
The ministry did not give further details about cooperation with these two countries.
While industrial experts estimate Beidou can trigger a potential market worth 225 billion yuan across China by 2015, Huang believes a huge potential market exists outside the country.
He said Pakistan, Thailand and India are major potential Beidou users in the fisheries sector, because the system can help fishermen send emergency messages to rescue centers, and also inform their families about the latest conditions aboard vessels through a text message service.
Liu Guozhi, vice-chairman of the China Satellite Navigation Commission, told the fourth China Satellite Navigation Conference, which ended on Friday in Wuhan, Hubei province, that Beidou is made in China but will be used worldwide.
The three-day conference, held annually since 2010, attracted more than 2,000 people from China and overseas. They discussed the latest progress in satellite navigation technology, with the theme of the conference being opportunities and challenges in Beidou's application.
Ran Chengqi, spokesman for the China Satellite Navigation Office, said Beidou will work with other satellite navigation systems, and international users are welcome to try the system.
Stuart Riley, engineering manager of US-based Trimble Navigation, said this is a good chance to get to know Beidou. “We have been working on a product to support Beidou, which will be announced soon,” he said.