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Licenses Granted as Map World Opens up

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More than 100 domestic and overseas companies that provide online mapping services have received licenses to continue doing business in China, while another 100 were still applying for a license, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Song Chaozhi, deputy director of the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, said at a news conference that the online mapping service in China was open. Many foreign companies offering online mapping services, such as Nokia Alliance Internet Services Company Limited, have received a license. On Tuesday, the bureau also launched the final version of China's official online mapping service - Map World - after a trial version started operating in late October.

Since May 2010, the bureau has required companies operating online mapping services in China to apply for a license to continue their business. The deadline was extended from late December to the end of March.

According to the bureau, after July 1 administrative action will be taken against any unlicensed mapping service providers.

"We'll formulate favorable policies for better development of the country's online mapping service industry, as it is developing rapidly in China, with an expected annual increase of 25 percent at least," Song said.

Song added that a national digital database will be set up and a national geospatial information industry zone will be built to promote healthy development.

"We'll make greater efforts to build Map World into an international brand," he said.

Map World has updated the Chinese part of its mapping information according to the latest satellite pictures taken in late 2010, adding more than 2 million items of geospatial data covering roads at least 30,000 kilometers long, according to the latest statistics from the bureau.

It has also added English translations to the test version due to request from users.

Since the trial of Map World began in late October, more than 30 million users from at least 210 countries have visited the site,, Min Yiren, deputy director of the bureau, said on Tuesday.

Global geographic data is accessible at the site, Min said, adding that the data on China was "particularly detailed", covering towns and villages in China's extensive rural areas.

Map World has 11 million place names in it. Among them are some 120,000 points of interests such as hotels, restaurants, retail businesses, government institutions, banks and roads.

Min said there is no charge for using Map World's basic services, but services designed for corporate users will come with fees.

(China Daily January 19, 2011)