The FCC has awarded Lynk Global what the company says is the world’s first commercial license for a service that connects satellites directly to standard mobile phones.
Lynk says it will launch commercial services for a global constellation of satellites by the end of the year. The first satellite covered by the FCC license, Lynk Tower 1, launched on April 1. The company plans to launch Lynk Towers 2, 3 and 4 later this year. Those will be the company’s seventh, eighth and ninth platforms to be launched.
The company has contracts with 15 mobile network operators (MNOs) in 36 countries with a combined population of 240 million people. Lynk is testing in ten countries.
According to a Lynk press release, only 10% of the world’s surface is covered by terrestrial mobile connectivity. Lack of any coverage – termed “0G” — extends to 4 billion people. Another 3 billion people have extended periods of no connectivity and 1 billion will buy their first phone when affordable connectivity is available.
The FCC license allows Lynk to launch satellites and provide emergency communications services.
“The FCC is the gold standard of telecommunication regulators. They have deep technical knowledge and conducted a rigorous review process, which validates that Lynk’s first-of-its-kind satellite-direct-to-standard-mobile-phone service is ready to be deployed globally.” Lynk Global COO and Co-founder Margo Deckard said in the press release. “We applaud the FCC and its staff for using their smallsat rules to accelerate innovation in space. We are honored to receive the very first commercial license for the world’s first true satellite-direct-to-standard-mobile-phone service from such a credible and respected regulator.”
Steve Case, a co-founder of America Online and now chairman and CEO of Revolution, is an investor in Lynk through his Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.
Satellite to mobile phone connectivity may be a nascent trend. The newest iPhone has satellite connectivity for emergencies. And T-Mobile plans to offer satellite connectivity to mobile phones through a deal with SpaceX.