Lynk Global, a U.S.-based startup, is making strides in the Pacific island nation of Palau, where the Palau National Communications Corporation (PNCC), the country’s largest telecom operator, plans to become the first to use Lynk’s direct-to-device satellites commercially. This technology will provide wireless customers in Palau with connectivity outside terrestrial network coverage.
The technology is set to be deployed in Palau’s southwest region, specifically in the Sonsorol state. With Lynk’s direct-to-device satellites, PNCC customers will be able to send and receive periodic texts up to three times a day. This new service will be accessible via their existing mobile phones, replacing the current usage of radios on very high frequency (VHF) spectrum for communications in that area.
Lynk Global currently operates three small satellites in a low Earth orbit constellation. The company plans to expand this constellation to increase coverage and reduce latency, with the ultimate goal of enabling additional connectivity services, including voice calls. The move by PNCC in Palau is a significant step towards making Lynk’s satellite communication services commercially available to a broader user base.
Lynk Global has ambitious plans to expand its satellite constellation and provide satellite-enabled coverage to a wide range of locations, including the Pacific island nation of Palau. The Virginia-based venture has secured funding to launch three more satellites in the fall and has commitments for an additional six satellites to be deployed in January.
The company aims to have more than 50 satellites operational by the end of 2024, with plans for a constellation of approximately 5,000 satellites in total. For PNCC in Palau, Lynk’s deployment plan would allow them to expand satellite-enabled coverage to two more islands by the end of 2023, and eventually provide coverage to all of Palau’s 300+ islands and surrounding waters by March.
Beyond providing universal service to Palau, Lynk’s satellite network can also serve as a backup in case of natural disasters that disrupt the country’s ground network.
Lynk has signed agreements with more than 30 companies, and the startup has successfully demonstrated its technology in over 40 countries on seven continents. This progress indicates growing interest and confidence in the use of satellite-based communications solutions for expanding connectivity in remote and challenging environments.
Lynk Global is making progress in securing regulatory approvals to operate its direct-to-device satellite services in various countries, including the United States. The startup has announced plans to launch commercially in New Zealand this fall and in Canada early next year through partnerships with mobile operators. However, specific details about other countries where Lynk intends to offer its services have not been disclosed.
In the emerging direct-to-device market, Lynk’s competitors include AST SpaceMobile, a Texas-based startup that plans to launch its first five commercial satellites early next year. AST SpaceMobile recently achieved 4G LTE download speeds during tests with its prototype satellite, BlueWalker 3, in low Earth orbit. These successful tests demonstrated the capability of providing high-speed data services to mobile devices in remote areas using their satellite network.
The direct-to-device satellite industry is gaining momentum, with multiple companies striving to provide reliable and accessible connectivity services to areas beyond the reach of traditional terrestrial networks. As these companies continue to develop and deploy their satellite constellations, they are likely to play a significant role in expanding global connectivity and bridging the digital divide.