Advanced Television

Lynk Global signs up US government

April 26, 2024

By Chris Forrester

There’s a battle taking place for satellite-based direct-to-cellular services. AST SpaceMobile is one such player, while the likes of Globalstar (linked with Apple) and Starlink (linked with T-Mobile and others) are also looking to tap into what they all suggest is a potentially large market for connectivity.

However, it is Lynk Global, based in Virginia, that has signed what could be a significant contract with the US Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to provide commercial sat2phone services to the US Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and other US government agencies.

Lynk says this exclusive contract enables the DoD, DHS and other US government agencies to commercially purchase sat2phone services for the next 5 years, and includes an option to extend the contract for 5 more years. Services available under the contract include SMS text messaging, emergency cell broadcast alerts, and LynkCast weather and information broadcast services.

Margo Deckard, Lynk’s co-founder and COO, commented: “Lynk will enable US government agencies to access life-saving emergency communications to help the American people when terrestrial mobile networks are non-existent or have failed. DISA and US Space Force will save lives through the Proliferated Low Earth Orbit (PLEO) contract vehicle. We are humbled to serve the people who risk their lives for the American people.”

The US government is the world’s largest customer of commercial satellite communications, and buys those services through DISA. In 2022, DISA released a PLEO satellite services solicitation for the first time. Of the 20 companies that received DISA PLEO awards, Lynk is the only firm which received a contract for sat2phone connectivity.

Charles Miller, Lynk’s co-founder and CEO, added: “The US Department of Defense has been field testing Lynk’s technology for several years. We are deeply grateful for the trust that the DoD has given to Lynk with their decision to give us the first-ever sat2phone contract. This contract will enable the nearly three million men and women in the DoD to use the existing phone in their pockets to stay connected everywhere. No matter what happens.”

Lynk has patents in its portfolio and today allows commercial subscribers to send and receive text messages to and from space via standard unmodified, mobile devices. Lynk says its service has been tested and proven on all seven continents, has regulatory approvals in at least 30 countries and is currently being deployed commercially based on more than 40 MNO commercial service contracts covering approximately 50 countries. Lynk is currently providing cell broadcast (emergency) alerts, and two-way SMS messaging, and intends to launch voice and mobile broadband services in the future.

By partnering with Lynk, says the company, a mobile network operator opens the door to new revenue in untapped markets, gives subscribers peace of mind with ubiquitous connectivity, and provides a potential pathway to economic prosperity for billions.

The rationale for Lynk is that only 10 per cent of the planet is equipped with cell-towers. While much of the rest is ocean or uninhabited the company says its ‘cell-tower-in-space’ strategy can serve an estimated 750 million mobile phone users who are not connected.

It deployed its next pair of Sat2Phone satellites in March. It already has an impressive number of telco partnerships signed up including Turkcell, Telefonica, Telikom (PNG) and certain Vodafone territories. It says it will launch up to 74 satellites by 2025 and thousands more over the next few years.

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