Two Chinese companies are competing to build a planetary mobile broadband internet service based on low-orbiting satellite networks, officials from Chinese aerospace firms revealed in Beijing on Sunday.
The first company, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, will launch 54 satellites in the first phase and another more than 246 in subsequent phases, China's Science and Technology Daily reported on Sunday.
The second company, the similarly named China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation, plans to send 156 satellites into low orbit by 2022 for Project Hongyun, an official said on Sunday.
The satellites will enable global internet service to ground, shipboard, airborne and mobile terminals, Bao Weimin, head of the first corporation's science and technology committee was quoted as saying in the report.
Any individual or object will be able to stay seamlessly connected underwater in the deep oceans including the Arctic and Antarctic, or in regions along the Belt and Road route, said Bao.
Unlike traditional stationary communication satellites that orbit 360,000 kilometers above the Earth and experience relatively poorer reception and longer internet delays, a low-orbit satellite constellation can achieve faster, more stable, seamless internet coverage, Pang Zhihao, a Beijing-based space communication expert, told the Global Times.
The satellites would not necessarily all be crowding around the equator to achieve a low Earth orbit, Pang said.
The system will also carry forward China's ideas including the Belt and Road initiative and building a community of common destiny, Pang said.
The global internet system will enable smart communication terminals like mobile phones to link with the satellite network and achieve high-definition voice service, instant messaging and email of a quality nearly as high as that of ground-based networks.
Zhang Zhongyang, head of the No.2 research institute at the second company - China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation - revealed on Sunday that the institute will this year launch a test satellite for Project Hongyun, which, although boasting a smaller number and scale of satellites, shares similar goals with the US SpaceX's Starlink project.
The corporation will launch four more to gain preliminary experience by 2020 and have all 156 satellites operational in 2022 providing internet in poor-signal areas and places with an adverse environment, Zhang said.
Newspaper headline: Satellite firms building global internet