A communications network (116) includes satellites (700), which serve as switching nodes and move in orbits about the earth. The network (116) additionally includes stationary switching offices (800). Mobile communication units (600) communicate with the network through the satellites using TDMA data packets (300) and network control messages (500). The switching offices couple to PSTNs (108). Each mobile unit (600) is managed by a nearby switching office (800) that assigns a logical channel identification (LCID) value (400) to the unit (600). The unit (600) and network (116) use the LCID value to identify the unit in network communications so that network resources are conserved. The network (116) insures that LCID values (400) assigned to opposing parties in a call are included in all TDMA data packets (300) transported to the opposing parties.; Satellites (700) and switching offices (800) use these LCID values (400) as logical channel assignments which do not change throughout the duration of the call, in spite of movement by satellites (700).