China to build satellite-based mobile network

Posted on 27 Mar 2018 and read 456 times
China to build satellite-based mobile networkA state-owned aerospace company will this year start launching more than 300 satellites as it presses ahead with plans for the China’s first satellite-based mobile communication network.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (www.spacechina.com) said that it aims to have 60 of the satellites up and running by 2020, offering ‘basic’ smartphone coverage world-wide to subscribers in China.

Yin Liming, chief executive of China Great Wall Industry (China Aerospace’s commercial rocket launch and satellite services arm), said: “Project Hongyan will be done in three phases, and form a global low-orbit mobile internet.”

"It has not been confirmed when the full complement of satellites would be in operation. Plans for the project were revealed in 2016; its aim is to “fill in black spots in ground-based mobile communications systems and offer pole-to-pole coverage” for Chinese users.

Satellite competition is becoming increasingly intense, with China’s announcement of its development coming as US entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX aerospace firm put the first of its Starlink ‘constellation satellites’ into orbit as part of a similar — but bigger — global plan for low-cost communications.

Starlink plans to have as many as 12,000 satellites in orbit by the mid-2020s, while US-based OneWeb has a goal of 648 by 2020. Both will provide broadband networks.

Iridium NEXT’s 66 satellites and Globalstar-2’s 24 satellites already offer voice and data services, while the Orbcomm network with 31 satellites provides low-speed and cheap data transmission.

Google’s O3b network has 12 of its 20 planned satellites in orbit, and is expected to be completed next year.

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