China's Beidou navigation system is set to increase its presence in the Asia-Pacific region, with Pakistan becoming its fourth overseas user later this month.
Huang Lei, international business director of Beijing BDStar Navigation, which promotes Beidou or Compass, in the international market, told China Daily in a Sunday report 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, adding that 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 report noted. The Beidou network has 16 navigation satellites over the region, with 30 more due to join the system by 2020.
Earlier in April, Thailand signed a 2 billion yuan (US$317 million) agreement for Beidou to build a national remote sensing system based on Beidou for the country, and a large satellite ground station with an industrial park for the development and production of Beidou receivers for the wider Southeast Asia market.
Similar deals were signed with Laos and Brunei in late April. Laos will adopt Beidou indeveloping 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, South China Morning Post (SCMP) noted in a separate report.
Beidou has strong potential outside China
While the Global Navigation Satellite System and Location-based Service Association of China estimates the Beidou ecosystem will help create a domestic market worth 400 billion yuan (US$64.4 billion) by 2020, 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 inform their families about the latest conditions aboard vessels through a text message service.
Analysts had previously told ZDNet Asia while coverage of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) remains inadequate given that it only covers Asia-Pacific and the Chinese government is involved in its development, the importance of the Chinese market for smartphone and navigation satellite system manufacturers means BDS will gain traction in the coming days.