Monday, January 9, 2023
Taiwan is working to build its own version of Starlink, SpaceX’s popular satellite internet system, to counter the potential threat of mainland China invading the island.
The Taiwanese government has been courting domestic and international investors for the project, according to The Financial Times, which cites anonymous sources. Taiwan’s space agency plans on spinning off the project into its own company, although the Taiwanese government plans on holding a minority stake.
The push for a satellite internet service occurs when Taiwan and the rest of the world has seen how vital Starlink has become to Ukraine’s war effort against Russia. SpaceX’s satellite internet service has been able to supply high-speed internet to wartorn areas across the country, while also providing communication services to Ukrainian troops on the ground.
Taiwan could face a similar confrontation with China, which has vowed to reunify with the island, even if it means using force. As a result, Taiwan wants to build a communication infrastructure like Starlink that could withstand a military invasion.
According to local publication CM Media, the Taiwanese government has approached the domestic company Tron Future about building the satellite internet network. Tron Future has been developing phase array systems, which can be used to beam internet data from orbiting satellites to receivers on the ground.
CM Media adds that Taiwan plans on establishing 700 base stations on the island to feed data to the orbiting satellites.
Of course, building a satellite internet system is no easy feat. Other companies including Amazon are trying to launch their own next-generation satellite networks, but they’ve yet to begin serving customers. Meanwhile, Starlink crossed 1 million subscribers last month. Taiwan’s own digital minister Audrey Tang told The Financial Times it would “take a few years” before the island’s satellite internet system is operational.
The other issue is China and whether it might try to derail Taiwan’s satellite internet system. Last year, a group of Chinese researchers urged the country’s government to develop ways to disrupt and destroy Starlink over concerns it could be used against China.
Starlink has yet to expand to Taiwan, and it remains unclear when it could do so. But while Taiwan could pay SpaceX for Starlink connectivity, Elon Musk's company might also deny such access if it faces pressure from China.
Copyright © 2023 CST, Inc. All Rights Reserved