Sony Group established a new company in the US to build compact optical communications devices that allow satellites to link in real time using lasers, as the Japanese company moves into the red-hot space-based mobile broadband sector.

Sony Space Communications, set up through the group’s US subsidiary Sony Corp of America, will develop optical devices to connect micro satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) with ground stations, with the aim of providing “easy-to-use inter-satellite communications capabilities,” Sony noted in a statement.

Kyohei Iwamoto, president of Sony Space Communications, stated that while there are about 12,000 satellites in space, with the number growing and the amount of data used in orbit also rising, the available radio waves is limited.

He added LEO satellites need to communicate with the ground, requiring a large number of communications facilities, which is problematic because each bird must pass directly over a ground station to communicate with it.

The new company will focus on lowering power consumption of high-speed communications equipment for smaller satellites and addressing the need for spectrum licences for each frequency.

Over the past 18 months, a number of communications companies, including SpaceX’s Starlink, OneWeb, AST SpaceMobile, SES and Lynk Global, introduced plans to work with local operators to deliver space-based connectivity to remote rural areas using LEO satellites.