Taiwan uses European satellites for wartime communications protection.

Taiwan uses European satellites for wartime communications protection.

Taiwan Seeks European Support for Communications Systems Amid Escalating Tensions

Taiwan

As tensions between China and Taiwan continue to escalate, the island nation is taking proactive measures to ensure its communications systems remain operational during any potential conflict. In a bid to strengthen its digital resilience, Taiwan has turned to European satellite firms for assistance. Specifically, the country has tapped services from the UK’s OneWeb and Luxembourg’s SES, both of which will play a crucial role in safeguarding Taiwan’s connectivity.

To address the possibility of disruption, SES will be implementing a medium-earth orbit (MEO) satellite network, as announced by Taipei’s digital ministry last week. This network will serve as an emergency backup in case of damages to Taiwan’s current terrestrial networks. SES confirmed the project, highlighting its objective to provide Taiwan with a reliable backup network that can protect crucial services like online calls, video conferencing, and live broadcasting.

In addition to SES, Taiwan has also sought assistance from OneWeb. Audrey Tang, the country’s digital minister, held discussions with the British company in June regarding the deployment of a low-Earth orbit (LEO) system. Backed by the UK government, OneWeb aims to provide satellite coverage for the entire island of Taiwan by the end of this year. This expansion of communications options will bolster Taiwan’s ability to maintain connectivity in case of any emergency or disaster.

Taiwan’s forward-thinking plans go beyond immediate needs. By the end of 2024, the nation plans to install over 700 satellite receivers, forming a comprehensive backup network. This network will ensure the continuity of essential services during times of crisis. The emphasis on satellite technology highlights Taiwan’s commitment to strengthening its digital infrastructure and maintaining its connectivity under any circumstances.

The global landscape has increasingly recognized the critical role that satellite firms play during times of conflict. This has been particularly evident in Ukraine, where SpaceX’s Starlink has provided internet services following Russia’s full-scale invasion. By offering an alternative network that is not reliant on terrestrial infrastructure, satellite connectivity has proven to be instrumental in keeping the country connected during disruptions.

The situation in Ukraine has also prompted the European Union (EU) to take steps towards developing its own satellite constellation, known as IRIS2. This constellation aims to provide reliable internet access during crisis situations. With a budget of €5.7 billion, the ambitious project is set to launch by 2027. MEP Christophe Grudler, rapporteur on the EU secure connectivity program, expressed enthusiasm for the project, emphasizing that it will mark the EU’s foray into telecommunications constellations, particularly in low orbits.

Conclusion

As tensions between China and Taiwan continue to rise, Taiwan’s proactivity in seeking European support for its communications systems demonstrates the nation’s commitment to ensuring its digital resilience. Partnering with satellite firms like OneWeb and SES not only provides backup networks during times of crisis but also expands Taiwan’s overall communications infrastructure. This approach aligns with global recognition of the pivotal role that satellite technology plays in maintaining connectivity during conflicts, especially exemplified by Ukraine’s reliance on SpaceX’s Starlink. Furthermore, the European Union’s own satellite constellation project, IRIS2, serves as further evidence that satellite networks are pivotal in the digital age when traditional terrestrial systems may be compromised. With these collaborative efforts, Taiwan is well on its way to fortifying its communications systems, ultimately securing its digital sovereignty and connectivity.