MADISON, Wis. — China's BeiDou satellite navigation system has become the biggest bone of contention in the Qualcomm vs. Broadcom competition to deliver more accurate positioning information to mobile devices.
Qualcomm announced late last month its support for the BeiDou constellation within Qualcomm IZat location solutions. The San Diego-based company revealed its collaboration with Samsung to launch the first wave of BeiDou-enhanced consumer smartphones.
Not to be outdone, Broadcom is introducing today, Dec. 9, the BCM47531, a new Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) chip that generates positioning data from five satellite constellations simultaneously.
In addition to receiving signals from GPS in the United States, GLONASS in Russia, QZSS in Japan, and SBAS (satellite-based augmentation system), Broadcom has integrated additional frequency support and digital processing capability for China's BeiDou constellation.
Adding BeiDou is critical, Mohamed Awad, director of product marketing for mobile and wireless at Broadcom, told EE Times, for enhancing navigation accuracy within China and elsewhere, particularly in urban settings where buildings and other obstructions can affect performance.
Developing GNSS chips that support various nations' satellite constellations -- including China's BeiDou -- is not just about responding to regional preferences and pride, says Awad. More important, the addition of BeiDou helps consumers anywhere in the world acquire more accurate positioning information, whether in Paris or San Francisco.
BeiDou consists of two separate satellite constellations -- a limited test system that has operated since 2000 and a full-scale global navigation system.
Its experimental system, also known as BeiDou-1, comprises three satellites, offering limited coverage and applications mainly for customers in China and neighboring regions.
The second-generation system, known as BeiDou-2, is still under construction. Upon its completion in 2020, a system of 35 satellites will begin serving global customers. Thus far, with 10 satellites in use, BeiDou-2 became operational in China in December 2011. It extended service to customers in the Asia/Pacific region late last year.