Lynk launches sat-to-phone service in Palau

Lynk Global has signed over 34 commercial contracts covering more than 50 countries, but it just so happens that PNCC in Palau is the first to launch a service using Lynk’s satellite-to-phone technology.

“They’re a great first customer,” said Lynk CEO Charles Miller. “They deeply value the service we can provide today… They were willing to go with us on this crawl, walk, run strategy.”

Currently, it’s an SMS beta service starting in the southwest islands and will extend across the country – which consists of more than 300 islands – to include all remote areas and Palau’s Maritime Economic Zone. Lynk will also be used to provide back-up services when natural disasters knock out the ground-based network.

Lynk technically can offer a voice service, but he said that’s not the right service to start with. “We don’t think people like periodic voice service,” he told Fierce.

Messaging is asynchronous by its nature and a better use of the capacity, so that’s what it’s starting with, he said.

The service is “vastly better” than what Apple offers through its deal with Globalstar, which is one-way and limited to emergencies, he said. “I love what Apple’s doing. It’s going to save lives, but there’s so much more – this is orders of magnitude better.”

Lynk’s service allows users to send a message to anybody and they can respond. “You could also send messages that are non-emergencies,” he said.

The company initially hoped to have its direct-to-satellite service commercially available at the end of last year, but that was pushed into April of this year. It also missed that date, but Miller today said that when he was asked last year about when it was going to launch, he provided an answer based on an aggressive target that he wanted the technical team to shoot for.

Lynk expects to start commercial service with other mobile operators this year but there's no word on when it might be available in the U.S.