BICS in Belgium has signed a deal for global mobile phone coverage via satellite using the Lynk Global network.
Lynk plans to provide the world’s first commercial satellite direct-to-mobile phone service later this year having developed and launched a ‘cell tower in space’. The system has been shown to connect directly to a standard mobile phone on Earth, and Lynk is the only company in the world so far to have successfully sent text messages to and from space via unmodified mobile devices.
Currently, around 450m people do not have access to digital communications. BICS will use its network to pair Lynk’s satellite constellation and the world’s mobile operators. Lynk’s technology allows standard roaming partner integration without any hardware or software changes to the mobile operators’ networks, bringing coverage to remote areas, islands, and even offshore.
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Coverage areas will include North America, the Caribbean, Latin America, South-East Asia, and several rural areas in Africa. Pairing Lynk’s patented satellite technology and BICS’ network, mobile operators will see network coverage extended to these areas that lack terrestrial cell towers.
“BICS firmly believes that connected communities are stronger communities,” said Mikael Schachne, VP Telco Market at BICS. “With Lynk, we recognized the chance to create something very meaningful and special for our Mobile Network Operators’ partners and their subscribers. This partnership is about building bridges so that more people can connect to and benefit from a connected society than ever before.”
“Mobile service is taken for granted by so many people who live in cities and suburbs, but we need to remember that billions of people still experience extended periods of disconnectivity, and hundreds of millions live without any connectivity,” notes Charles Miller, Lynk CEO and co-founder. “Being left out of the digital world creates barriers to economic growth and social improvement — trapping hundreds of millions in the deepest poverty. It also eliminates access to basic emergency services, making life more dangerous. Our partnership with BICS will allow MNOs to affordably expand their coverage and connect more people, saving lives and accelerating economic development for those living in the remotest parts of the world,” said Miller.
This follows an announcement by SpaceX and T-Mobile to offer a direct-to-satellite service from mobile phones via the next generation StarLink satellites that are due to launch later this year. Several other satellite operators are looking to provide 5G connectivity via low earth orbit.
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