Using 北斗 in Europe

北斗 is presently aimed at China as a navigation system. You can receive 北斗 satellites fine outside China. But the network of ground stations only provides corrections as far as they are relevant for China. Futhermore satellite coverage is much better over China than over the rest of the world.
北斗 comprises number of geostationary satellites at a static location over China, a number of satellites flying figure eight loops (inclined geostationary) and a relatively limited number of satellites in lower orbits which lead them all over Earth. Outside China you will therefore see less satellites than in China and the error corrections will not be as good.
Nevertheless you can perfectly well use 北斗 now, especially in combination with the GPS system. When used in combination you get better locations than using GPS only. Simply because more satellites tend to be better when it comes to satellite navigation.

北斗, China's navigation system

Since early 2013 the Chinese 北斗 (Beidou) satellite navigation system is operational. The coverage of the satellites still limits use to China itself. Even though a number of 北斗 satellites have orbits going over the whole Earth the system is of little use outside China since China's ground stations are mostly inside China itself. So corrections which are broadcast in modern satellite navigation systems are simply not available in the rest of the world.
北斗 consists of a number of geostationary satellites, inclined geostationary satellites and medium-Earth orbit satellites. The medium-Earth orbits satellites are in comparable orbits to GPS and Glonass satellites. So these are visible all over Earth. But since there are only 4 operational now (2015) the chance that one is in view is limited. You need about 30 medium-Earth satellites to cover the Earth. The other satellites cover China itself. The four geostationary satellites are all visible from all of China. The inclined geosationary satellites make long figure-eight loops over the area. So China itself is pretty well covered. They have succeeded in building an operational system with a limited number of satellites.

北斗, het chinese GPS

Januari 2012 had China een verrassing: 北斗 (beidou, het chinese GPS) wordt operationeel en beschikbaar gemaakt voor de hele wereld. Ze hebben de signaalspecificaties gepubliceerd in een interface control document (ICD). Met dit document kunnen makers van navigatieapparaten ondersteuning voor 北斗 inbouwen in hun apparaten. Intussen zijn de eerste ontvangers op de markt. De chinese markt wel te verstaan want door de banen van de satellieten is het systeem op dit moment nog nauwelijks bruikbaar buiten China.

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