The service was started two years after launching its Tiantong-1 01 mobile communications satellite into orbit. The goverment decided to develop their own satphone service after a major earthquake hit Sichuan province in 2008. The quake put an end to all ground communication systems, and the whole disaster relief depended on foreign satellite systems. Satellite Tiantong-1 01 was delivered in 2010 and launched in 2016. It features broad coverage and strong communication capabilities. New all-mode satellite mobile phones can now be used as ordinary phones in cities, but can also be turned to satellite mode in places with poor connection.
CAS news release, May 21, 2018