Lynk, Rogers eye sat-to-phone service in 2024

Lynk Global is getting closer to bringing its satellite-to-mobile phone technology to the U.S., inking a deal with Rogers in Canada to launch service in 2024.

Lynk first signed a deal with PNCC on the Pacific islands of Palau to launch a service using its satellite-to-phone technology. That was followed by deals with Vodafone Cook Islands and bmobile Solomon Islands.

The Rogers launch will start with SMS texting, mass notifications and machine-to-machine AI applications, then expand to include voice and data services. Lynk CEO and co-founder Charles Miller told Fierce it will be up to Rogers to determine exactly when they want to launch the service in 2024.

Rogers and Lynk marked their pact with a historic satellite-to-mobile phone call using Samsung S22 smartphones. The call was made between Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, and a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Search and Rescue Association using Lynk’s low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites and Rogers’ spectrum.  

The call was conducted in a harsh environment off the coast of Canada and “we’re totally jazzed,” Miller said, noting how Canadian authorities referred to Lynk as taking the “search” out of Search & Rescue.

In the U.S., there’s “absolutely clear interest” from operators and from the U.S. government, he said, declining to name names. “You should assume we’re talking to everybody.”

The primarily goal is accessing a mobile operator’s spectrum. “It’s a life-saving service. We just need to get the spectrum,” he said.  

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Amazon’s Project Kuiper, which this week announced it will use laser links to form a mesh network in space, is not considered a direct competitor to Lynk, whose category is satellite-direct-to-phone, he said.

“If you’re not doing satellite-direct-to-phone with a path to broadband, you’re not relevant,” he said, noting that SpaceX and AST Space Mobile are in the same category as Lynk.

While Lynk is starting out with texting services, “we have an absolute straight line path to broadband with our technology,” he said. “We designed this intentionally to go to broadband.”

With the technology proven to work, the key variable now is financing. In the last week or two, the company received more commitments and “there’s a lot of excitement in our industry,” he said, declining to reveal specifics.