Chinese High-Orbit Satellite to Compete SpaceX’s Starlink


With China having completed the initial set-up of its first high-orbit satellite communication network, there’s a Chinese alternative to SpaceX’s Starlink. It has a total capacity of high-throughput satellites are expected to exceed 500 Gbps by the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period 2021 – 2025.

The network will provide high-speed network communication and satellite internet access services for industries like aviation, emergency, energy, navigation, forestry and grass. The China Satellite Communications said the high-orbit satellite internet fully covers the whole territory of China and key areas of the BRI participating countries.

It also covers parts of Russia, Southeast Asia, Mongolia, India, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Satellite to Exceed 500 Gbps

The latest space race is internet satellites. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has already deployed more than 5,000 communication satellites, and now China. Beijing has an ambitious plan to build a 13,000-satellite LEO constellation. The total capacity of China’s high-throughput satellites will exceed 500 Gbps by 2025.

Sun Yaohua, satellite communications expert, says high-orbit satellites stay in a comparatively fixed position relative to the device connecting to them because of their long distance from the ground. Each one covers a much broader area than low-orbit satellites. Comparing the Chinese network with SpaceX’s Starlink, Sun said Elon Musk’s network required far fewer satellites for coverage and had no issues when a connected device switches between satellites, offering higher stability.

“Low-orbit satellites have the advantage of higher communication speeds and low transmission delay, owing to less signal loss over a shorter distance. They’re better positioned for businesses like online HD videos and financial exchanges. The low-orbit system also has a more resilient network that is not dependent on a single satellite and can continue to operate if one fails. But if one high-orbit satellite goes down, it will greatly affect the entire network.”

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Chinese Satellite More Mature

Sun believes China’s high-orbit satellite system is relatively more mature. He pointed out that the low-orbit ones are still developing and will surely power up in the future. “The coordination of high- and low-orbit satellites will be a general global trend in the future, with the former for basic coverage and the latter for regional or operational enhancement.”

The expert added that China needs to invest in low-orbit satellite networks to deploy 6G technology and compete with the Starlink satellites. He said the network will also provide experience in maintaining and operating a satellite system.



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