INTERVIEW: Russia satellite project Sfera to have 17 orbit groups
MOSCOW, Mar 6 (PRIME) -- Russia’s project Sfera, or Sphere, announced by President Vladimir Putin in 2019, will comprise 17 orbit groups, the Federal Communications Agency’s Director Oleg Dukhovnitsky told PRIME in an interview, published on Friday.
“I think we’re in the finishing straight. The program will receive an official status soon, and we’ll start implementing it. I believe the process of final agreement is a matter of coming months,” Dukhovnitsky said.
Sfera will count 600 satellites with deployment planned for 2023–2028. It is to compete with foreign counterparts OneWeb and Starlink, which will cover the whole world with the Internet. The Russian system will contain not only connection satellites, but also apparatuses for the Earth’s remote sensing and navigation.
“There will be a total of 17 orbit groups, which will equip consumers with the services of the planet’s remote sensing, navigation, TV and radio broadcasting, broadband access to the Internet, retransmitting, and data transfer, as well as technologies of the Internet of Things, and others. It’s a huge financial story of billions,” the official said.
The agency also takes part in a telecommunications cluster program. The 2022 budget plans 14.9 billion rubles to begin creating satellite and communication system Express-RV, which is also a unit of Sfera. “This system is to be in the orbit in 2023,” he said.
“The program will be financed from budget and non-budget sources. The figures will become clear when the federal sub-program is approved, which is a matter of the next few months, or sooner: we have a new government, and many procedures were relaunched,” Dukhovnitsky said.
A coordination agreement between the Russian Satellite Communications Company (RSCC) and the U.K.’s OneWeb is only being elaborated, and illegal use of connection systems of OneWeb and Starlink in the country will create problems for operators, the official said.
The Federal Security Service and the communications service opposed in 2018 allocation of frequencies to a unit of Roscosmos and OneWeb, which said it would revise its application to meet the requirements of Russia’s national security.
Dukhovnitsky also said that turning of RSCC and the Main Center of Special Communication into joint-stock companies will happen no sooner than in 2022.
The official also said that Russia may quickly launch registration of smartphones by the international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) number thanks to the existing developments.
Introduction of registration by IMEI was earlier discussed from 2023 and later from 2020, but no law has been adopted so far.
It was supposed that unregistered devices would not work, and lost or stolen phones would be disconnected. The cost of registration for individuals was to be below 100 rubles.
(66.1854 rubles – U.S. $1)