Tag Archive for: Lynk Global

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.

Lynk Global have made it clear that they will test the ability to send a 5G signal from a satellite launching in December to standard mobile devices, after getting funding for the demonstration from an undisclosed partner.

The experimental 5G payload will be onboard its second commercial satellite, which SpaceX is slated to fly on a Falcon 9 rocket as part of its Transporter 6 rideshare mission.

Two other Lynk Global satellites are also due to fly on this mission to give the Virginia-based startup four commercial satellites in low Earth orbit.

Lynk’s initial satellites are designed to provide connectivity for its mobile network operator (MNO) partners’ customers over 2G to 4G. 

The startup said “in the future” its software-defined radios “will be able to switch to 5G when our MNO partners and other customers prefer that over 4G.”

Details of the 5G tests were not disclosed.

Lynk has plans to operate more than 50 satellites before the end of 2023, which it says would enable users to send and receive text messages every 15-30 minutes.

Charles Miller, Lynk’s CEO, expects MNOs will want to upgrade from 4G to 5G satellite connectivity in 2025, when the startup would be able to provide “continuous” voice and broadband data services from orbit.

“Another issue is how prevalent the demand for 5G will be from our MNO partners,” Miller said via email.

“If we are only putting 5G beams down in a country, that means that 4G phones will not get service. Our MNO partners will need to decide when a transition takes place from 4G to 5G. This decision is up to the MNOs.”

He added: “I suspect Lynk will be ready to provide 5G services well before MNOs want to make the transition from 4G to 5G.”

Lynk’s long-term plan is to beam down 4G connectivity in one spectrum band and 5G in another, enabling MNOs to use both 4G and 5G services.

Texas-based startup AST SpaceMobile plans to start deploying its first commercial spacecraft in late 2023. These will be larger than Lynk’s pizza-boxed shaped satellites for providing voice, video streaming, and other higher bandwidth services.

AST’s BlueWalker-3 prototype satellite, which SpaceX launched Sept. 10, is slated to unfurl its 64-square-meter antenna in the next couple of weeks to test its ability to bring 4G and 5G connectivity to standard mobile phones.

SpaceX announced plans to provide its own direct-to-cell service as early as late next year in partnership with U.S.-based MNO T-Mobile.

“Lynk is years ahead of everyone else in enabling MNOs to extend their cellular networks to 100% of their geographic territories,” Dan Dooley, Lynk’s chief commercial officer of Lynk, said in a statement.

“We will be years ahead in 5G as well.”

He said Lynk is actively testing satellite-direct-to-phone-services in 12 countries on five continents. 

The startup secured regulatory approval Sept. 16 to operate its initial cellphone-compatible constellation globally; however, it has not yet obtained landing rights in any country to provide services.