Chinese breakthrough: A 6G network for space

10:04 18.10.2023 •

Pic.: SCMP

Chinese scientists move a step closer to 6G network after space test of new satellite communication technology. The ‘spaceborne optical switching technology’ was tested in August when it was sent into orbit by China’s Y7 carrier rocket. The new communication technology is integral in the development of satellite internet and the 6G network, writes ‘South China Morning Post’ (SCMP).

A milestone achievement in a crucial communication device – which may pave the way for satellite internet, a key part in the development of 6G networks – has been announced by a team of scientists in China.

When mounted on a satellite, the device can pass light signals from one location to another without converting them to electrical signals, working more or less like a mirror.

Now it has been successfully tested in space, the team from the Xian Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics, under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, announced.

The team of scientists has dedicated more than a decade to developing the device to enhance the capability, flexibility and speed of information transmission.

Their equipment, which is called “spaceborne optical switching technology”, was sent into orbit by China’s Y7 carrier rocket in August, according to a statement released by the academy last Sunday, saying it was the first time in China that such a device was tested on a satellite.

When downloaded and unfolded on the ground, the image information carried remained intact without any data loss.

According to a Chinese paper published last year by some members of the team, the device can support a switching capacity of 40 gigabits per second, a significant improvement compared with traditional switching technology.

Developments such as satellite remote sensing, supercomputing involving high-volume data and 6G mobile communication have all led to a growing demand for ultra-high speed and large-capacity information transmissions.

To achieve this, industry experts have said that a revolutionary future network should be a three-dimensional one, linking ground communication nodes with satellites.

“The next-generation communication network, including 6G, will go beyond terrestrial links; it ought to be a global network that involves satellite nodes,” the scientist said.

Meanwhile, the paper published by members of the scientific team said, “We need to build a satellite internet,” going on to add it should provide global coverage and low-delay services, accessible even in sparsely populated areas and without geographical obstacles.

So far, a few fast-movers in the industry, such as Elon Musk’s Starlink, have deployed optical communication for inter-satellite data transfer, and some Chinese players are also joining this race.


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