China Mobile has reportedly launched two new low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to trial for 5G and 6G-related technologies.
Employing 6G Design Architecture
According to state media, one of the recently launched LEO satellites is the world’s first in employing 6G design architecture, which was jointly developed by China Mobile and the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Innovation Academy for Microsatellites.
The 6G test satellite features a distributed autonomous architecture for 6G, which utilizes domestic software and hardware that is capable of supporting in-orbit software reconstruction, flexible deployment of core network functions, and automated management.
These features are reported to improve the efficiency and reliability of the satellite core network during in-orbit operation.
Signal Processing Satellites
Another satellite launched was China Mobile 01, which is reportedly the first signal processing satellite with a land-space 5G operating system in the world. China Mobile 01, co-developed with the Chinese satellite company, UBINEXUS, is able to operate efficiently in different space conditions due to its numerous innovative designs.
The experimental satellites are situated at an altitude of around 500 kilometers which provides advantages such as low-latency and high data transmission rates, in contrast to high-altitude satellites that orbit at 36,000 kilometers.
The Strategic Importance of LEO Satellites
China Mobile highlights the strategic importance of LEO satellites for future integrated space and ground networks which can resolve signal coverage deficiencies in terrestrial mobile networks, offering universally accessible high-bandwidth satellite internet services. The company has also announced plans to use the test satellites for in-orbit experiments to accelerate the development of space-to-ground technologies.
LEO satellites are strategically important due to their ability to provide global, high-speed internet connectivity with low latency. This connectivity is vital for remote areas lacking terrestrial infrastructure, enabling access to communication services, supporting disaster response efforts, and facilitating IoT device communication. Furthermore, LEO satellites offer a range of space-based services, including Earth observation, weather monitoring, and GPS navigation, which are crucial for applications such as disaster management, agriculture, and national security. Additionally, LEO satellites play a critical role in military and defense operations by providing secure communications, reconnaissance, and intelligence gathering capabilities, enhancing situational awareness and strategic decision-making for defense forces worldwide.
Moreover, LEO satellites present lucrative commercial opportunities for telecommunications companies and satellite operators, enabling the delivery of broadband internet, video streaming, and telecommunication services to consumers, businesses, and government entities.