Huawei and Apple's satellite communication may be the last mile of Internet popularization


In September 2022, Huawei and Apple successively released the Huawei Mate 50 series and the iPhone 14 series of smartphones. The satellite communication functions of the two have become a hot spot in the technology field.


  Satellite communication system refers to a system composed of multiple satellites that can process real-time information, among which low-orbit satellites can be used for mobile phone communication. The orbit height of low-orbit satellites is concentrated at 1000-1500km. The low orbit height makes the transmission delay between the ground and the satellite short, and the path loss is small. It is suitable as an efficient communication and interconnection tool. However, due to the low altitude, a single low-orbit satellite The coverage area is small, and a large number of satellites are required to form a constellation system to achieve global coverage.


  The embryonic form of civil satellite communication


  Lai Haiguang, CTO of Konwei Communication, pointed out that Huawei Mate5 uses the Beidou constellation, and the iPhone 14 uses the Globalstar satellite constellation. The difference between the two is that the Beidou constellation is a mixed constellation system of medium orbit and synchronous orbit. Its main function is navigation and has the ability to transmit short messages. The satellite constellation of Globalstar is a low orbit constellation, which is specially used for voice and low-speed data transmission

From the past to the present, satellite communication has been an emergency communication method in special scenarios. In the past, if you wanted to realize satellite communication, the equipment you needed to use was a satellite phone that was expensive. Now it has been replaced by a smart phone with more functions, and the price has not been increased because of the addition of this function. It seems to be an "itch upgrade".


  But in the future, the capability of satellite communication is far more than just sending emergency information. In addition to text messages, phone calls, and satellite communication, it can also realize the function of surfing the Internet, and it is likely to develop into a very important communication method.


  Heaven and Earth complement each other


  The advantage of the traditional communication method through the base station mainly lies in the speed. Through the optical cable connection, high-speed communication of up to 20Gbps can theoretically be achieved. However, the problem is that the construction cost is relatively high, and each 5G base station can only cover a small area. Many third world countries cannot afford the cost of infrastructure construction. According to the "Global Development Report" issued by the China International Development Knowledge Center, as of Some 38% of the world's population, or 2.9 billion people, will still be without internet access by the end of 2021.


  Satellite communication is mainly wireless signal transmission by low-orbit communication satellites. The current maximum speed is about 0.3Gbps, which is far behind 5G. However, the advantage is that there is no need for infrastructure such as base stations and optical cables on the ground, and it can cover a wider area.


  This also means that base station communication and satellite communication, covering speed and breadth respectively, just complement each other.

 At present, the main factor restricting the development of satellite communication is the unit cost of satellite launch, of which the thrust ratio of the rocket and whether it is recyclable are the most important determinants. The launch cost per kilogram of the European Ariane-5 carrier rocket is about 10,313 US dollars, the Russian main carrier rocket is 7,246 US dollars per kilogram, and the Kuaizhou 11 carrier rocket under China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation is launched per kilogram The price is about $5000. The U.S. Falcon 9 rocket currently costs $2,700 to launch due to its recyclable design.


  At present, the Starlink company of Tesla founder Musk plans to launch a total of 42,000 satellites for the Starlink system. As of January 1, 2022, more than 1,400 Starlink satellites have been launched, while the total number of satellites in orbit in China is 499 pieces.

 At present, China is stepping up its deployment of the satellite communication industry. In September 2020, a Chinese company code-named "GW" submitted a spectrum allocation file to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The total number of satellites launched by the Exposure Program in the archives reached 12,992. On April 29, 2021, China Satellite Network Group Co., Ltd. was officially established in Xiong'an. At this time, the outside world was able to confirm that "GW" is the code name of "State Grid".


  It should be pointed out that due to the limited capacity of satellites in low-Earth orbit, the scientific community generally believes that there are about 60,000 satellites. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) implements a "first-come, first-served" system for satellite orbit allocation. Therefore, if both China and the United States complete satellite launches as planned, most of the Earth's low-Earth orbit will be occupied by the two countries.


  In terms of satellite manufacturing, my country already has the capability of mass production at low cost. On January 19, my country's Galaxy Aerospace self-developed 6 low-orbit broadband communication satellites rolled off the production line for satellite R&D. my country's first low-cost mass development and production of satellites.


  The future of the sky, more than communication


  On June 6, 2021, the "6G Overall Vision and Potential Key Technologies" released by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology pointed out that 6G will achieve global seamless coverage of air-space-ground integration, and the satellite-ground integration networking technology will become the 6G network. One of the most important potential technologies. Base station communication and satellite communication will jointly form my country's future communication network.

image sources: virtual china

In the aspect of car networking, satellite communication will also play a certain role. With the continuous improvement of the level of automatic driving, the high-precision positioning provided by low-orbit satellites can assist the image recognition system to clearly identify reference objects such as guardrails, trees, elevated roads, and road edges, improve the vehicle's environmental perception ability, and then improve the automatic driving ability.


  With the development of the satellite communication industry, it will also drive the surrounding aerospace technology. For example, the recoverable rocket technology used to launch communication satellites is generally optimistic by the outside world. By reducing the cost of space transportation, industries such as high-precision metal processing and biopharmaceuticals can achieve production in a gravity-free environment at a lower cost in the future. Perhaps the fourth industrial revolution will be driven by the ability of humans to enter space for production operations at a lower cost.

 source: china news

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