Chinese group sets sights on nation's first commercial low-orbit network
Editor's note: In the run-up to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, China Daily will cover a series of key projects and advanced equipment of national importance, showcasing the country's huge improvements and relentless efforts in manufacturing upgrading and innovation.
In the next three years, China will launch its first commercial low-orbit satellites system, designed to collect real-time data for industries including the heavy machinery and logistics sectors, according to the company behind it.
Beijing-based private company Commsat Technology Development Co Ltd said that from 2018 to 2020, it will position 60 satellites at six different orbits, about 600 kilometers above the earth.
Commsat said it has finished testing and has applied for relevant communication bandwidths and orbit positions at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's radio communication office.
Commsat aims high with satellite system launch
The group said it expected to get approval by early next year, and then the company will apply for additional approval from the International Telecommunication Union.
Ultimately, Commsat plans to deploy more than 800 such satellites. Currently, there are about 300 to 400 low trajectory satellites orbiting the earth, launched mostly by US and European aerospace manufacturers.
Unlike high orbit satellites - positioned more than 20,000 kilometers above the earth and mainly used for mobile phones and GPS - the low-orbit satellites will function for those industries with less intensive demand for information.
In the meantime, Commsat said it is in discussions with major local heavy machinery companies, container groups, as well as other industries, including the maritime and forest conservation sectors, to expand the number of potential applications for its satellites.
The 60 satellites will cost an estimated 1.5 billion yuan ($220 million), and the company has completed three rounds of financing, with investors including CITIC Securities and other equity funds.
Commsat CEO Xie Tao said he plans to establish some of the satellite ground stations in countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, and provide them services at low prices. He said users could share data or keep it confidential, depending on their preferences.
"The satellites can be used for fieldwork, offshore operations and forest fire prevention. Most of these places don't have the internet and the low-orbit satellites will help with telecommunications," he said.
Peter Deak, an economic attache at the Hungarian embassy in Beijing, said many countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative lagged behind with construction of infrastructure for the internet and needed the support of such satellites.