Lynk intends to provide connectivity everywhere, whether land or sea, for the existing more than 5.2 billion mobile subscribers through their existing mobile network operator.
Lynk Global has registered hundreds of unmodified mobile phones to an Earth-orbiting satellite that it calls a cell tower in space, the company said. Lynk Global said the achievement is a critical milestone that proves Lynk’s proprietary core satellite technology works with ordinary terrestrial mobile phones, enabling broadband, voice and text messaging.
The mobile phones in the United Kingdom, the United States and Bahamas registered with Lynk Global’s fifth satellite, named Shannon, which it launched into orbit on June 30. Shannon also connected with and registered mobile phones in Virginia, which Lynk Global said took place in spite of noise created by millions of mobile phones. Lynk said it repeated the tests in the United Kingdom, with testing permission from Ofcom, and in the Bahamas with the support of mobile network operator (MNO) partner Aliv.
“This proves that Lynk has solved the last major technology barrier to connecting everybody, everywhere with a standard mobile phone,” a statement from the company reads. It said that Lynk is the world’s only independently certified provider of cell-tower-in-space connectivity.
“Lynk has provided independent testing data that proves they are connecting existing Aliv devices that roam onto the Lynk system on areas outside the Aliv coverage footprint in the Bahamas,” said Stephen Curran, Ph.D., Aliv’s chief technology officer. “The testing has proven the technology’s ability to simultaneously register and authenticate mobile devices. Lynk will provide a critical maritime communication service for our users. The Caribbean is also known for extreme weather events and earthquakes. Lynk will assist Aliv in providing emergency communications back-up when the network experiences major issues, and our sites are down.”
Charles Miller, Lynk’s CEO and cofounder, said that six years ago, the world thought it was impossible for a satellite to connect to mobile phones.
“Lynk has now done the impossible,” Miller said. “We recently announced the first operators to sign up for our Flagship Carrier Program, Aliv in the Bahamas and Telecel Centrafique in the Central African Republic. These and others will launch commercial services in their countries in July 2022, beginning our journey to serve the unconnected around the world.”
Tyghe Speidel, Lynk’s chief technology officer and cofounder, said that the company’s fifth satellite completed commissioning that included antenna and core mobile processing tests, demonstrating the ability to receive and process signals from terrestrial subscriber phones on Earth that are out of terrestrial coverage. He said that the ability is especially difficult to achieve because of noise from millions of other phones communicating terrestrially in the same mobile operator spectrum at the same time in the satellite’s spot beam.
“We have repeatedly demonstrated the intricate two-way signaling required for a phone to connect to our cell tower in space, involving multiple instances of uplink and downlink messages, including a device request for channel access, and then the corresponding authentication and location update procedures,” Speidel said. “To date, we’ve done this with hundreds of phones in the United Kingdom, Bahamas and the United States. This has never been proven before with a satellite cell tower, and Lynk has done it. As part of the testing, we have also proven our signaling link budget — the signal power analysis — to close the link with existing mobile phones, as well as proven our ability to not interfere with existing terrestrial mobile operations while operating in the same bands.”
Lynk said it intends to provide connectivity everywhere, whether land or sea, for the existing more than 5.2 billion mobile subscribers through their existing MNO. Each year, the company said, more than 3 billion people who own mobile phones experience extended periods of disconnectivity. According to Lynk, another 1 billion people who can afford a mobile phone do not buy one because there is no connectivity where they live and work.
Lynk CEO Miller said that Lynk is solving a problem that nobody else in the world is solving. “We call it ‘the 0G problem,’” Miller said. “Next time you hear somebody use the phrase ‘5G,’ ask yourself, ‘How does 5G solve the world’s 0G problem?’ The answer … it doesn’t.”
According to Lynk, the mobile industry has nearly exhausted the ability to profitably expand coverage with ground-based cell towers worldwide, leaving geographic coverage effectively capped. Lynk’s cell-tower-in-space service will complement existing terrestrial coverage and solves the coverage problem, the company said. It said Lynk represents the largest growth opportunity in the mobile industry, a bigger growth opportunity than 5G.
“Connecting the unconnected, with only the existing mobile phone in their pocket, will jump-start economic growth in remote and rural communities,” the company statement reads. “Economic research proves that mobile wireless connectivity accelerates economic growth in poor rural areas by bringing 21st-century connectivity to people where they live.”
Another benefit, according to Lynk, is instantaneous backup emergency communications everywhere on Earth. Currently, cellular systems are rendered inoperable when they are needed the most such as natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires, as well as the aftermath of security-related incidents, the company said. “Nobody should die because the phone in their pocket is not connected,” the Lynk statement reads.