Huawei has recently joined the elite group of companies venturing into the realm of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite internet networks, a domain where SpaceX’s Starlink has been a prominent player. This development signals Huawei’s aspirations to potentially launch a satellite internet service, initially focusing on the Chinese market.
The Starlink system, recognized as the world’s most extensive LEO constellation, owes much of its growth to the frequent launches by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, a symbol of modern rocketry’s integration into daily life.
Huawei is preparing to compete with Starlink
In a significant step, Huawei‘s foray into this sector was unveiled through a Weibo post, showcasing presentation slides that highlighted the success of their LEO satellite test.
Notably, the test demonstrated remarkable download speeds, peaking at an astonishing 660 Mbps, surpassing Starlink’s maximum of 300 Mbps and its typical user experience of around 220 Mbps. This achievement marks a significant milestone in Huawei’s journey in satellite internet technology.
During the Aerospace Information Industry International Ecosystem Event in Chongqing, China, which took place earlier this month, Wang Jun, the chief scientist at Huawei’s 6G wireless technology laboratory, shared detailed insights into Huawei’s LEO satellite internet test. This presentation underscored the company’s commitment to integrating satellite connectivity into its technological ecosystem.
Huawei’s interest in satellite technology extends beyond just internet services. This is evident in the development of their smartphones, such as the Mate 60 Pro, which boasts the ability to connect with geostationary (GEO) satellites. This feature highlights Huawei’s innovative approach to enhancing mobile connectivity, blending traditional cellular capabilities with advanced satellite communication technologies. Such advancements position Huawei at the forefront of a new wave of integrated communication solutions, bridging terrestrial and extraterrestrial networks.
Satellite communication is marked by the distinct characteristics of geostationary (GEO) and low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. GEO satellites, unlike their LEO counterparts, orbit at considerably higher altitudes.
This presents a unique set of challenges in the development of smartphones capable of connecting with them, given the typical size and design constraints of these devices. Furthermore, the high altitude at which GEO satellites operate often leads to limitations in connection speeds. This limitation is a key driver behind the push by companies like SpaceX to develop LEO satellite constellations, which promise enhanced connectivity.
LEO satellites offer several advantages over GEO satellites, including their smaller size, which leads to shorter manufacturing times and less complexity. These factors not only contribute to higher network speeds but also to environmental sustainability. In case of malfunctions, LEO satellites are designed to safely disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere, minimizing space debris. This aspect of LEO satellites reflects a growing consideration for ecological impacts in the field of satellite technology, balancing technological advancement with environmental responsibility.