China Telecom snags first satellite codes for global reach

Vyra Wu, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: AFP

China Telecommunications Group has secured the green light from the International Telecommunication Union to obtain coveted international codes for its satellite operations. The company clinched the E.164 code (882)52 and the E.212 code (901)09, earmarked for user dialing and network identification, respectively, marking a historic milestone as the first Chinese telecom entity to acquire such resources for satellite communication services.

Fueled by the pioneering "Tiantong-1" satellite mobile communication system, homegrown entirely, China Telecommunications has swiftly launched satellite mobile services, encompassing voice and text messaging, directly to consumers in China.

With this recent approval for international code allocation, the company now sets its sights on extending mobile satellite communication(satcom) services to global users within the coverage ambit of the "Tiantong-1" satellite. Moreover, it aims to cater to diverse sectors, spanning marine transportation, deep-sea fishing, aviation rescue, and scientific expeditions, among others, with seamless mobile communication solutions.

At the heart of this innovation lie the Tiantong satellites, spearheading China's foray into satcom. The constellation comprises Tiantong-1 01, ensuring comprehensive coverage over China's vast territory and territorial waters, while Tiantong-1 02 and Tiantong-1 03 extend their reach to the Western Pacific, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asian countries, and the eastern Indian Ocean. This strategic coverage mirrors China's commitment to enhancing connectivity across regions integral to its "Belt and Road" initiative.

This surge in satcom capabilities has coincided with rapid advancements in smartphone technology, with industry giants like Huawei spearheading efforts to integrate satcom functionalities into their flagship models, including the Mate 60 series, Honor, Xiaomi, and OPPO devices, among others.

As smartphones like the Mate 60 Pro gain traction in the market, the prospect of global satellite calls and seamless satellite internet connectivity from any corner of the globe becomes increasingly tantalizing. However, realizing this vision hinges on broader cooperation between nations and the continued expansion of China's satellite infrastructure.

Beyond China's borders, the world's second-largest economy is making strides in establishing its version of "Starlink," underscored by three key initiatives. The "Project GW," spearheaded by China's 'national team', aims to deploy a robust network comprising 13,000 satellites, with plans to kickstart 6G mobile communication networks by 2035.

Complementing this effort are regional and private endeavors, including the "G60 mega-constellation" led by nine major cities and the "Galaxy Constellation" initiative helmed by private enterprise Galaxy Space Co., Ltd.

Furthermore, the national team comprises the Hongyan Constellation, and the Hongyun Constellation, while the private sector includes Geely's satellite constellation.

As China charts its course in the satcom arena, these ambitious endeavors signal its resolve to shape the future of global connectivity.