Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
China's Beidou GPS-substitute opens to public in Asia (bbc.co.uk)
31 points by soupboy 1607 days ago | hide | past | web | 53 comments | favorite

There are some bizarre comments in this thread. Does China have PR people that are paid to just comment on random news articles about them with praises in broken english?

Are you familiar with the wu mao dang (五毛党 or 50 cent party)?


Anyways, just one of the strange things about living in China, but they are mostly harmless and uninfluential on English boards (now on Chinese boards...).

Weird I had no idea about that.

How are they worse on the Chinese boards?

They are more effective at subverting a discussion, they don't come off as obvious trolls like they do on English boards.

Almost certainly. Companies can afford to do exactly this on sites like reddit and amazon. The US military has admitted to having a program to do exactly this.

Part of the reason is because posting comments on certain web pages is not a highly sophisticated task, so wages can be low for the commenters.

It was:

* in 2011

* contracted out to a corporation called Ntrepid, see more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ntrepid

* worth $2.76M

* targeted non-US websites to counter-act extremist propaganda

That is hardly representative of the US military rather than pet project, let's stop the fear mongering.

How is that at odds with what I said? While you provided more details than I did, it doesn't disagree that the US military has hired people to post comments on sites to further its PR goals.

However, the project is probably didn't end in 2011 as you have implied, but is still ongoing since there has been no news that it has been shut down.

Also, this is only what the US government has admitted, and only as a response to the information that was leaked as part of the HB Gary hacking. These types of programs are usually not publicized. It is entirely possible that the program is larger than reported or has grown since 2011, especially in light of the NSA whistle-blower's report about data collection of US citizens.

Much of what you have said now is pure speculation.

Furthermore the TLAs (Three Letter Agencies) are known to engage in both foreign and domestic clandestine operations while it would be scandalous for the US Military to operate domestically, so I highly doubt they're operating domestically.

Fine, let me change my response so it is less speculative.

what evidence do you have that the program ended in 2011?

Since most information about these classified programs comes from documents that are unclassified well after the program has ended, all that's available right now are piecemeal reports from hackings, like anonymous's attack on HB Gary, or whistleblowers, like William Binney.

While, it's possible that the reports we have outline the entire program, it's just as likely that they have only revealed part of a larger program.

Personally I subscribe to the Occam's razor theory: the one with the fewest assumptions is the best.

The function of a military is a large tool, it feels neither love nor hatred but a sense of duty; however the same cannot be said about the TLAs as they operate with impunity.

You're not kidding. Although I don't doubt there are propaganda teams on many sides that patrol the internet, I have a hard time imagining that these come from one, except possibly as part of a weird bluff. They're so bad that there's no way they'd actually cause positive feelings toward China. My bet is that some small group of regular Chinese internet users found this comment thread and are going to town. Their language is much like any typical jigoistic crap you'll find scattered all over the internet from many different countries.

wtf is going on with the other replies to the op's comment?

Try to let ppl feel inferior of the their secondary language is a not bad idea. but it is just somehow off the topic. it has nothing related to the topic here and makes your arguments bland. Second, it disappointed you again that nobody here was paid by any company. it is just because they pity you to show you waht is right ,which is like your teachers told you in your kindergarten age. Last, enjoy your foolish.

Well, this is entertaining.

I don't know why anyone would trust this system. China already requires maps to be "fuzzed" for location (if you use Google Maps on your phone in China, your location on the map will be up to 1km wrong), so there doesn't seem to be anything stopping them from doing the same here when they feel it's a sensitive time or area.

This was my initial impression too, but I got the feeling from the article that the Chinese government probably really don't care if no one else uses it, it's for use by their own military and as a means of "protection" against thew US shutting off GPS services to them - highly critical if they want to build those drones which rely on GPS.

As an aside, how does the US government make money from the GPS? As a consumer, I pay no money, so I can only assume the GPS chip manufacturers pay some sort of royalty fee?

I don't think the purpose was primarily military-related. The US's GPS system can be jammed as is, and I don't see any reason why this system would be any different. GPS satellites are very far up in the atmosphere and thus produce a very weak signal to near-earth. This isn't just a theoretical attack: a few years ago, a truck driver with a GPS jammer accidentally jammed the GPSs of planes above him landing at Newark [1].

I think it's more a matter of national pride issue: to show the world that China doesn't have to rely on the US for technology. Russia's GLONASS system (briefly referenced in the article) is more or less the same thing. The good news is that this system, like GLONASS, will likely improve positioning speed / reliability, since there will be more navigation satellites in the sky. Already, receivers can tie GLONASS and GPS together; it's only a matter of time before Beidou is integrated as well.

[1] http://www.economist.com/node/18304246

The US government does not make money from GPS. It was built by and for the military, with civilian use as an afterthought. Once civilian use took off, though, the government decided to basically give it as a gift to the rest of the world. http://www.wired.com/politics/law/news/2000/05/36021

The military retains control (which is why other nations are still working on their own systems), but this really was a remarkable act of generosity by the US government.

According to Wikipedia, civilian availability was prompted by the shooting down of a 747 that drifted into Soviet airspace due to an improperly calibrated inertial navigation system.

Thanks. It did make me wonder when the article said China were planning on launching 40 satellites there must be a pretty high cost associated with that.

The government doesn’t charge anything for GPS: http://www.gps.gov/policy/funding/

yes that is true if you dont count the money you paid for the chain products of GPS.

> As an aside, how does the US government make money from the GPS?

Do they? What would the royalties be for, licensed chip design?

IIRC Galileo has DRM on the signal so they can charge for it. Not that different from satellite TV I guess.

You have one open and freely available channel and one encrypted, much like how GPS operates with one open channel and one encrypted. Only difference is that the encrypted version on Galileo is intended for commercial use, probably shipping or something.

Or, rather, you will have. If the project ever finishes.

If the cost of receivers comes down sharply, devices might try to use as many networks as possible to get an accurate fix as rapidly as possible. I can definitely see GPS-Beidou-Galileo together.

Definitely. Mid-range and high-end receivers (for things like ecology surveys and continental drift tracking) integrate GLONASS and GPS already.

I don’t have the RF/SP domain knowledge to back this up, but I speculate that multiple low-end receivers for 2–4 of these networks on a single chip might be more useful in practice than a single good receiver for any one network. In other words, a $20 Galileo chip + a $20 GPS chip might give me a faster time-to-fix than a $40 GPS chip. (In terms of units shipped, most GPS goes into phones, where time-to-fix is way more important than centimeter accuracy.)

iOS and iPhone hardware since the 4s has supported both aGPRS and GLONASS. Qualcomm snapdragon parts also supported both (so the S2 maybe?)

Faster time to fix translates into longer battery life. Whether this matters in practice for much of the Continental US I don't know.

Even phones, if they want to be sold in Russia, integrate GLONASS and GPS now.

There's no reason mobile phones with GPS-only chipsets can't be sold in Russia -- they just get hit with ~25% import duties that phones with GLONASS-supporting chipsets don't have.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if China does something similar with Beidou and mobile phones sold in China.

The beautiful thing is that with 4 more or less independent global navigation satellite systems in play (GPS, Galileo, Compass/Beidou, and GLONASS), there will be more than 70+ satellites in orbit providing ultra-reliable, ultra-accurate navigation and positioning and you won't necessarily have to trust any one of those networks individually.

Do you have a receiver that works with all four systems?

Such a thing doesn't exist.

For one, neither Beidou nor Galileo are operational GNSSes, so there is no economic incentive to create receivers that work with those services.

Also, the Chinese government only just today published Beidou's ICD, the document that specifies the open-access Beidou signals: http://www.insidegnss.com/node/3331

That was the unstated thesis of my comment.

Neither Beidou nor Galileo are usefully operational yet. There are receivers that can handle GPS+GLONASS, though.

And my point was that no one who isn't compelled to use only the Chinese system need trust the Chinese system - for most navigation consumers around the world Compass will be there to provide redundancy and to make the error bars smaller.

software defined radio would be a good bet for that.

I'm curious how soon mobile phones will have so many tuners that SDR is worth it. A typical phone now has what, 4 GSM bands, 3 UMTS bands, 3 LTE bands, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, GLONASS, FM Radio, 1seg, NFC...

They would probably have more if they were cheaper, all sorts of countries have random frequency bands being freed up for mobile. But I think power consumption still the limiting factor.

The Chinese military will trust it and Chinese consumers will be coerced into using it just like all the other homegrown standards.

Originally the american GPS system had a encrypted higher-precision signal for military use, and and an open lower-precision signal for civilian use, which could be independently shut off. One day they decided to open up the full precision to everyone. I don't know if the Chinese system is set up similarly, but it's a possibility that the military gets different data from civilians.

For information on the various satellite navigation systems available:

  GPS (United States)
  GLONASS (Russia)
  Galileo (European Union)
  Compass/ Beidou (China)

This is just another example of ignorant westerners demonize China. 1km wrong? are you fucking serious? I use GPS everyday and didn't find any problem. You're just kind of idiots who think anything related to China must be evil, without any reason, and think the Chinese government has nothing better to do but vandalizing anything.

It's true, and at least it was still in effect last time I was in Beijing. Google Maps even disable their map+satellite view overlay above a certain zoom level to mask this (only in China - cross the border to free Hong Kong and it works), but you can still see it if you turn on Traffic view.

Domestic GPS devices have a reverse transform to mask the effect, but the result is you can never be sure exactly where you are. Seems like Baidu maps have fixed their map+satellite overlay now, but when I visited, they had the same problem.


why are you interested the sensitive region of other country? why area 51 is blocked from GPS? why can't countries outside U.S check how many Massacre weapons in this country? why this domestic country arise the most the wars in last 60 years?

The thing is China has a pretty funny idea of what constitutes "sensitive". Such as free speech and human rights.

is this related GPS? But ask yourself first, does it make sense ? do you know the entire story but just Plagiarized from you media?

When the Chinese government is frivolous with blocking access to websites and services, it's not a huge leap to worry they may be frivolous in denying access to other services they provide. Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre? Maybe we'll bump down the resolution in that area to make protests more difficult.

Not saying they're going to do it, but just the smallest uncertainty means you'd rather trust one of the 3 other competitors in the area.

edit: I wonder if putting keywords on this page will get them denied access to these comments 六四事件 天安門廣場抗議 天安門事件

Haha, it looks like putting in those words maybe did block the Chinese.

Nothing frightens me more than a society with no freedom of speech, except for one that gleefully has none.

area 51 isn't blocked from gps or google maps: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=area+51 and https://maps.google.com/maps?q=nellis%20afb

This would make rather more sense if you replied to the comment you were commenting on...

Wumao dang (50 cent party) invading hackernews?

Traitors visited here too. lol

Calm down. This is actually a fair site, but the standards are high.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact