The satellite company aiming to offer direct-to-mobile internet services claims it is “years ahead” of the competition
This week, Lynk has announced the successful launch and deployment of two satellites set to serve as what the company calls ‘cell-towers-in-space’.
Using patented technology, these orbital base stations will be able to connect to existing standard mobile devices on Earth, providing 2G, 4G, and even 5G connectivity for customers.
“This launch extends Lynk’s leadership in the satellite-direct-to-standard-phone category. While others have just figured out that satellite-direct-to-phone is a big deal, we invented and patented the technology in 2017, started testing the technology in space in 2019, and now have three commercial satellite-cell-towers-in-space,” said Charles Miller, CEO of Lynk. “We are years ahead of everybody else.”
Lynk launched its first commercial-ready satellite base-station, Lynk Tower 1, back in April last year. By September, the company had received a licence to provide satellite-direct-to-standard-phone services from the Federal Communications Service and, in November, and announced tests of the world’s first mobile 5G-from-space payload.
Previously, the satellite operator had said it would aim to launch three more satellites in the near future; today’s announcement accounts for two of these devices but contains no information about the elusive third satellite.
The satellite operator has previously suggested it will launch a global commercial service in 2025, targeting the 90% of the world that they claim is not covered by terrestrial mobile networks. However, to achieve anything close to global coverage will require a lot more of these low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites; UK-based satellite rival OneWeb, for example, has said it will need 648 LEO satellites to achieve full global coverage.
Lynk has said its plans are even bigger, aiming for several thousand devices in orbit by 2025, increasing to 5,000 in the longer-term. This would give it a scale similar to SpaceX’s LEO Starlink constellation, which already has over 3,200 satellites in orbit.
To date, the company has raised over $30 million in funding, but will presumably need much more to achieve its scale-up goals.
Nonetheless, with clearance from the FCC already attained, Lynk say they are gearing up for a limited commercial launch in 2023, though a specific deadline has yet to be announced.
According to the press release, Lynk already has commercial agreements in place with 25 mobile network operators (MNOs) in 41 countries and is actively testing its technology in 17 countries on all seven continents.
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