A Chinese internet technology firm is planning to launch a constellation of 272 satellites by 2026 with an aim to provide free Wi-Fi service worldwide and rival global tech giants like Google and SpaceX, according to a media report Thursday. LinkSure Network, founded in Shanghai in 2013, markets itself as a global innovative mobile internet company specialising in free internet access, content and location-based services on its official website. It unveiled its first satellite in the constellation plan on Tuesday.
“The satellite will be launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in Northwest China’s Gansu province next year, and by 2020 there will be ten satellites in space,” the state-run China Daily reported Thursday.
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, the report said.
Wang Jingying, CEO of LinkSure Network, said the company would invest 3 billion yuan (USD 431.4 million) into the plan. She expressed hope that through different scenarios, applications and modes, the company could earn in the future.
According to the data from the United Nations, by the end of 2017, there were still 3.9 billion people not connected to the internet. 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 companies, including Google, SpaceX, OneWeb and Telesat, have already launched plans to use satellites to provide free internet access. Also China is building the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), stated to be a rival to the US’ Global Positioning System (GPS).
It will be the fourth global satellite navigation system after the US GPS system, Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo. India too is building its navigational system called the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), with an operational name of NAVIC.