BeiDou-2: The 3 Things Every GNSS Technology Developer Should Know

Whether you are developing a smartphone for immediate global sale, or designing the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology of the future, BeiDou-2 is big news. For those outside the world of GNSS, keeping track of China’s developing satellite constellation—and its developing nomenclature—can be far from easy.

In this post, I’ll clarify what we mean by BeiDou and BeiDou-2—and what both mean, right now, for developers, manufacturers and users of satellite positioning and navigation technology.

1. BeiDou-2 is here.

BeiDou-2 is China’s new regional satellite navigation system (RNSS). It currently offers positioning and navigation services to both China and the surrounding Asia-Pacific area.

The BeiDou-2 constellation consists of:

  • five geosynchronous (GEO) satellites
  • five inclined GEO (IGSO) satellites
  • five medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellites broadcasting on three frequencies

In its service area, devices equipped with BeiDou-2 receivers can offer greater availability and accuracy than those that rely on GPS or GLONASS (Russia’s GNSS) alone.

The Chinese government recently made BeiDou-2 support a mandatory feature of new GNSS technology intended for use in commercial freight and passenger transport applications.

2. BeiDou GNSS is coming.

In addition to being a complete, functioning regional system in its own right, BeiDou-2 is the foundation for the third phase of the programme to create China’s full GNSS, known simply as BeiDou.

Scheduled for completion by 2020, China’s finished GNSS will join GPS, GLONASS and Europe’s Galileo in providing worldwide positioning and navigation services. The BeiDou constellation will ultimately comprise:

  • five GEO satellites
  • three IGSO satellites
  • 27 MEO satellites

Similar in structure to Galileo, BeiDou will also offer both open and restricted services.

3. You can test BeiDou-2 performance today.

It’s now three months since the release of the BeiDou-2 Signal In Space Interface Control Document (SIS-ICD).

With this SIS-ICD now available, GNSS technology developers across the world can begin to build BeiDou-2 functionality into receivers, chipsets and devices intended for Chinese and neighbouring markets.
Equally, those developing technology with a long R&D phase—or expected operating lifecan start work to ensure that technology is ready to take advantage of the full BeiDou GNSS when it arrives.

Testing, of course, is vital throughout the process of designing, developing and manufacturing any GNSS receiver or GNSS-enabled device, with quality, reliability and performance all depending on a rigorous test regime.

To meet this need, we’ve now added BeiDou-2 support to all Multi-GNSS RF constellation simulators and signal generators in the Spirent range, providing developers with a comprehensive range of test solutions that are both extensively proven, and widely trusted at the highest levels.

Find out more

Spirent is the world leader in GNSS testing. For over a quarter of a century, we’ve been supplying test systems and consultancy to product designers, integrators, verifiers and manufacturers, as well as working closely with the world’s military, government and space agencies.

If you have any questions about testing BeiDou and BeiDou-2, or any other GNSS or hybrid positioning and navigation technology, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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