BEIJING: A Chinese internet technology firm is planning to launch a constellation of 272 satellites by 2026 with an aim to provide free WiFi service worldwide and rival global tech giants like Google and SpaceX, according to a media report on Thursday.
LinkSure Network, founded in Shanghai in 2013, markets itself as a global innovative mobile internet company specializing in free internet access, content and location-based services on its official website.
According to the company, the satellite will be launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China’s Gansu province next year, and by 2020 there will be 10 satellites in space. The constellation will have 272 satellites by 2026. People could use their mobile phones to search for internet services provided by the constellation and browse the internet, even in regions where telecom networks do not cover.
Wang Jingying, CEO of LinkSure Network, said the company will invest 3 billion yuan ($431.4 million) into the plan. She believes through different scenarios, applications and modes, the company could earn in the future.
By the end of 2017, there were still 3.9 billion people not connected to the internet, according to data from the United Nations.
Because of the diversity and complexity of geomorphology, some infrastructure facilities of telecom networks cannot be installed at some places, and therefore satellite constellations might be an alternative.
Currently, many foreign tech companies, including Google, SpaceX, OneWeb and Telesat, have already launched plans to use satellites to provide free internet access.
According to their company website, LinkSure already services more than 900 million users across 223 countries and regions, mainly through its application WiFi Master Key, which allows users to connect to certain Wi-Fi hotspots without the use of individual login details.
A previous Goldman Sachs report estimated long-lasting and high-profit opportunities will appear in the space commercial market, at a scale of trillions of dollars within 20 years.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicted that by 2045, the world space industry will reach $2.7 trillion in value.
Chinese aerospace technologist Huang Zhicheng said space projects were always high-risk and high-investment, they do not see returns for several years and investors should be patient.
Other countries with their own indigenous systems
China is building the BDS (BeiDou Navigation Satellite System), stated to be a rival to the US’ Global Positioning System (GPS).
Russia has GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System), the European Union has Galileo Positioning System, Japan has QZSS (Quasi-Zenith Satellite System).
How far is India?
- India too is building its navigational system called the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), with an operational name of NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation)
- It is designed to provide accurate position information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1500 km from its boundary, which is its primary service area
- The IRNSS will provide two types of services; Standard Positioning Service (SPS) for all users and Restricted Service (RS) only for authorized users
- The NavIC can be embedded on chips and other devices as well as on vehicle navigation systems