China Mobile launches LEO satellites to test 5G and 6G

China Mobile launches LEO satellites to test 5G and 6G

China Mobile has reportedly launched two experimental satellites in low earth orbit that will be used to test 5G and 6G architectures, particuarly in terms of integrating satellite and terrestial networks to support both technologies.

According to state media reports, the LEO satellite was launched on Saturday and placed in orbit at an altitude of 500km. The satellite – co-developed by China Mobile and the Innovation Academy for Microsatellites of the Chinese Academy of Sciences – “supports in-orbit software reconstruction, flexible deployment of core network functions, and automated management”.

The 6G satellite was launched alongside another LEO satellite, developed by China Mobile and Chinese satellite company Ubinexus, equipped with a land-space 5G operating system, according to the state-owned Global Times.

Both satellites will be used to test ways to integrate satellite comms into terrestrial 5G and 6G cellular networks to provide coverage in remote areas, the report said.

While 6G is still at least six years way from standardisation, the 3GPP’s Release 18 standard – expected to be frozen next month – is designed to integrate non-terrestrial networks (NTNs) such as satellites and high-altitude platforms (HAPS) into the terrestrial 5G infrastructure.

Wang Zhiqin, VP of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology and head of China’s 6G promotion team, told state media in December that China plans to commercialise 6G technology by 2030, and claimed complete basic standards work for the technology sometime next year.

A report issued Tuesday from analyst firm Juniper Research said that initial 6G services will start launching worldwide in densely populated geographical areas in 2029, and forecasted 290 million 6G connections globally by 2030.


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