With China's first self-developed satellite mobile communications system, Tiantong System, offering commercial services from Friday, major telecommunications service provider China Telecom has started marketing China's first indigenously built satellite phone, Tiantong satellite phone.
Satellite phones function like mobile phones, the only difference being they bank on signals from a communications satellite, not from a satellite ground station as in the case of mobile phones. Which gives satellite phones a unique advantage in areas where there are no satellite ground stations or existing ones have become dysfunctional.
Independent of telecommunications ground stations, satellite phones are increasingly being used the world over, especially for emergency communication during rescue operations in the aftermath of natural or other disasters.
When a major earthquake left all ground communication systems damaged at Wenchuan in Sichuan province in May 2008, disaster relief and rescue operations personnel had to depend on foreign satellite systems, underlining the need for China to develop its own satellite communications system, especially to deal with emergencies.
The launch of the Tiantong-1 satellite in 2016 made China's own satellite mobile communications system possible. All the satellite, chips and terminals in the Tiantong system have been developed and made in China.
The Tiantong System's reach extends across China's land and sea area. Which means, apart from rescue and relief personnel, fishermen can also avail of its services. The Tiantong System not only ends the country's dependency on foreign satellite and guarantees domestic users' communication security, but also starts a new era for China's self-made satellite mobile communications system.
The launch of the Tiantong System and first self-made satellite phone shows the rapid progress China has made in the field of advanced technology as well as its spirit of innovation, which is key to building comprehensive national strength in the new era. China is gradually evolving from being the "world's factory" to an important global high-tech and R&D center.
The country's remarkable achievement in high-tech will not only benefit domestic users but also people in the rest of the world. In the future, the Tiantong System will offer services to global users, especially in countries along the Belt and Road routes.