The first base station in space will be launched by satellite telecommunications provider Lynk Global to deliver 5G cellular connectivity to regular smartphones on Earth. The test will utilize Lynk’s second commercial satellite and take place in December 2022. An unnamed partner has provided financing for the project.
The US Federal Communications Commission recently granted the business the first commercial license for satellite-direct-to-phone technology (FCC). A patent on the capacity to connect to already-existing standard 5G devices on Earth in 55 countries has also been obtained.
Dan Dooley, chief commercial officer of Lynk Global, said that his technology was “years ahead” of the competition in enabling mobile network operators to expand their cellular networks across 100% of their respective geographic regions.
“We are actively testing satellite-direct-to-phone-services in 12 countries on five continents,” Dooley said. “We will be years ahead in 5G as well. Recent events have only accelerated Lynk’s progress not only technically as well as commercially with MNO partners,” said Dooley.
The “recent events” that Dooley referred to might be Lynk rival Starlink starting to offer cellular connectivity to T-Mobile subscribers in the US next year. However, Starlink is yet to receive approval from the FCC to offer this service. Recall that Elon Musk’s Starlink had received the nod to provide internet solutions to Africa, starting with Nigeria and Mozambique. Theoretically, Starlink is able to deliver 150Mbps internet speeds to any location on the planet. The customer only requires a clear view of the sky.
Lynk’s satellite-to-phone service, however, was successfully tested last year across 6,000 devices in five different nations. Ironically, Starlink’s parent firm, SpaceX, launched the business’s first commercial satellite on a ride-sharing trip.
In the upcoming months, a number of additional satellite and telecom operators want to start satellite-to-phone connectivity trials. In order to conduct engineering trials using the firm’s satellite-based mobile network, Vodafone has teamed with AST SpaceMobile. In a first phase that encompasses 49 tropical countries, including several in Africa, Vodafone’s South African-based subsidiary, Vodacom, will be given first access to test the network.