Lynk Global, said to be the world’s sole independently verified space-based mobile network connectivity provider, has announced that it has filed for a commercial operator’s license with the FCC. Commercial service is expected to begin around the world starting next year upon FCC approval.
The startup expects its patented technology to eventually allow anyone with an existing cellphone to stay connected, anywhere in the world, at all times. Furthermore, Lynk’s system requires no changes to the phone; any common cell phone will work.
“Lynk is introducing a brand-new, never-been-done-before service — satellite-direct-to-standard-phones,” said Charles Miller, CEO of Lynk. “As an American company, we are fortunate to have the FCC, whose process is trusted by officials around the world, to license our satellites. We believe that being good corporate citizens means at every point in the process you must be rigorous—whether it is eliminating harmful interference or minimizing orbital debris. Because using cellular frequencies from space has never been done before, we believe that being licensed by the FCC will help regulators worldwide embrace this groundbreaking technology.”
Lynk’s initial commercial license application intentionally uses the FCC’s new streamlined process for up to 10 small satellites to accelerate granting the license. Experience with previous applications suggests this streamlined process will take 10-12 months, allowing Lynk to begin global service next year. This is the first step in Lynk’s plans for a larger constellation that will grow to several thousand satellites to begin continuous global service in 2025.
Ultimately, Lynk plans its full constellation to reach 5,000 satellites to provide broadband speeds to your phone. Using a low-risk development approach, the company will integrate some of today’s most advanced space sustainability methods to prevent and mitigate orbital debris, and Lynk is actively advocating within industry and government to develop stronger orbital debris mitigation approaches.
In February 2020, with the help of NASA and mobile network operators (MNOs), Lynk sent the world’s first text message from a satellite in orbit to a standard mobile phone on the ground. Lynk has also signed contracts with the U.S. Air Force and the UK Space Agency to support development of its system.
To date, Lynk has signed dozens of testing agreements with MNOs. Miller noted, “There is a huge amount of interest in Lynk’s service … we actually have too many testing partners at this time. To manage this demand and ensure the highest quality testing protocols and commercial service, we are implementing a ‘Flagship Carrier’ program. Under this program, we will be limiting initial commercial services to, at most, a dozen mobile network operators globally.”
In partnership with mobile network operators, Lynk will provide a service for the 5.2 billion existing cell phone users globally. Further, many of the 2.5 billion people currently without phones will be connected to the global society and economy, materially improving their lives. Lynk will provide an instantaneous backup emergency communications layer everywhere on Earth. Lynk will enable people to receive emergency alerts and contact 911 for help even when the ground network is not operating due to hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires and terrorism.