Space contractor China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp is working on using its satellite technology to provide 5G service at sea. Last month, the state-owned space entity conducted the country’s first tests using a low-orbiting satellite launched in 2018 to enable 5G communication and IoT services.
The demonstration was conducted in waters near the Zhejiang province, reported China Daily. Engineers and crew aboard a patrol ship checked social media and communicated with colleagues on land via 5G calls and video conferences.
China Daily reported that the 5G signals were transmitted through a gateway station mounted on the ship and a low-orbit, experimental broadband communications satellite developed by CASIC Space Engineering Development. According to Li Yanbin, deputy general manager of CASIC, once the technology becomes commercially operational, it will make it possible for people to use telephone and internet services anywhere in the world.
Today, more than 3 billion people lack internet access, with 700 million lacking access to basic telecommunication service, Li added. He explained why tests were conducted at sea and not in other remote areas without connectivity.
“Now, many ‘blind areas’ in terms of telecommunication services are at sea. In addition, communication between cargo and fishing ships and people on the ground are tremendously restricted by factors like bad weather or poor access to traditional signals,” Li said. “Therefore, fishermen and shipping industry workers are undoubtedly among the people who most need such technology.”
Li also explained that using a low-orbiting satellite has benefits, including faster response time, allowing users to connect to the internet, and conduct phone calls more easily.
As of October, China Daily reported that the country has rolled out more than 700,000 5G base stations, serving over 180 million user terminals. According to Liu Liehong, vice-minister of industry and information technology, 5G technology is rapidly integrating with and fostering other sectors such as smart manufacturing, health, energy, and agriculture.