Lynk sends 2 satellites to space and preps for April launch

Lynk Global successfully launched two more satellites into space in advance of the company’s anticipated April commercial launch of its cellular-to-satellite service. Lynk now has three commercial satellites in orbit. 

These two new satellites were launched using a new high-tech deployer system that Lynk said makes it possible to launch multiple satellites at one time, which reduces the company’s launch costs. This is important because Lynk needs about 1,000 satellites in orbit to have full continuous broadband coverage, which it expects to reach in 2025.

Even though the company initially hoped to have its direct-to-satellite service commercially available at the end of last year, it has now pushed that plan to April. Nevertheless, Charles Miller, CEO of Lynk Global, said that the company is still “years ahead” of its competition because Lynk is able to provide two-way messaging services today over multiple different smartphones.“We came out of stealth in 2019. At the time no one believed that you could do this so we took advantage of that lead time,” he said.

One advantage is that Lynk’s technology makes it possible to connect any cellular device that is operating today because it is able to fool cellular devices into thinking that the satellite is a nearby cell tower and then connect to the device.  This is different from Apple’s cellular-to-satellite service that uses Globalstar’s satellite network. The service, which is called Emergency SOS via Satellite, is currently only available to users with Apple iPhone 14 devices.

And Qualcomm’s recently announced Snapdragon Satellite service, which will use Iridium’s satellite network, will only be available to Android devices that have Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile platform and are powered by the Snapdragon 5G modem. Snapdragon Satellite isn’t expected to be available on devices until the second half of this year.

Miller, however, questioned the viability of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Satellite service on Iridium’s network. “Iridium is limited in capacity and speed,” he said, adding that he believes the service will be expensive. Iridium and Qualcomm declined to provide any pricing information about Snapdragon Satellite when the two companies announced their partnership earlier this month.

Miller said that Lynk has deals with 25 mobile operators, including some in North America. The company structures its operator deals two ways. Miller said the majority of the contracts are a revenue share, where Lynk gets paid a percentage of whatever revenue the operator makes from offering the service.  The other model is where Lynk charges a usage fee.  Miller said the usage option is intended for operators that want to offer the service free to their subscribers as a way to differentiate from the competition.

Long-term Miller believes Lynk will be connecting much more than smartphones to its satellite network, including automobiles and  any type of device with a cellular chipset. “Our strategy is to be the trusted partner of the mobile network operators,” he said. “We want to help them keep their subscribers connected.”