We’re the next big thing after 5G – Lynk

We caught up with satellite base-station company Lynk at MWC, who told us they’ve now signed with 8 MNOs and that within 10 years they’ll be providing the fastest speeds in mobile broadband via satellite.

Andrew Wooden

March 9, 2022

4 Min Read
Lynk CEO Charles Miller

We caught up with satellite base-station company Lynk at MWC, who told us they’ve now signed with 8 MNOs and that within ten years they’ll be providing the fastest speeds in mobile broadband via satellite.

Lynk uses satellites to establish a direct connection directly to a device, as opposed to using a terrestrial hub. It does this through some proprietary technology that makes the device think it’s dealing with a regular base station – essentially creating a cell tower in orbit. Last September it signed up its first operator customers in the Bahamas and in the Central African Republic.

We spoke to CEO Charles Miller (pictured) during MWC in Barcelona to find out how the roll out is going, and get some details on why it thinks the satellite based technology is going to have such an impact on the industry.

“We hired Dan Dooley, former president of Sprint Wholesale as Chief Commercial Officer back in July, and he signed his first deal within a month in August,” Miller said. “He’s been signing one mobile network operator deal a month, and we have 8 contracts signed now and a whole bunch more coming. There’s a real interest from mobile network operators for connectivity everywhere that we solve.”

When asked for a bit more detail on the technology that allows Lynk to operate satellites as essentially floating towers, Miller told us: “We fill in all the black spots everywhere, wherever those black spots are. We’re doing something that a few years ago people said was impossible, which is a satellite connecting directly to a mobile phone both ways. Seven years ago, in late 2015 we had this vision that we had to go directly to the phone with no changes, and that was hard. It took us a couple more years to invent the key technology that allowed you to do that. But we were relentless and said, no, for this for this really to work, [there needs to be] no change at all.

“So we had to invent a whole new ways of doing software modifications at the at the base-station, which happens to be the satellite, such that the base-station looks like a standard ground based cell tower, to the phone. And this allows you to be backward compatible with all 6 billion phones on the planet. We had the technology invented and patented in 2017 – we’re the only patented and proven satellite, direct the phone system in the world. We’ve launched five satellite cell towers in space, and we’ve connected thousands of mobile devices in five different countries.

We’ve connected cars, we’ve connected trucks, we’ve connected iPads, we’ve connected John Deere tractors, all from space. So we’ve proven the technology and now we’re  been signing up mobile network operators around the world.”

So that’s the technology itself – but what specific problem does connecting phones directly to a satellite solve for the telecoms industry?

“We solve a problem that the world has been beating up on mobile phone companies about forever – when you going to get connectivity everywhere?” said Miller. “We solve a fundamental economic problem with mobile towers. You cannot afford to build mobile towers everywhere – you lose money, the CAPEX and OPEX kills you. All the MNOs are offloading their towers because it’s such a huge CAPEX. There are MNOs that we’re talking to that are losing money on towers, they’re not paying for themselves. We solve that problem too.

We allow MNOs to create a whole new revenue source. MNOs have paid for all the spectrum, but they can’t light it all up.  We allow them to light up their spectrum everywhere, and it’s just free revenue on their books from an underutilised asset. We’re the best friends of MNOs right, we’re solving a problem where their subscribers complain about being disconnected. And we’re going to help them connect everywhere.”

With eight MNOs on its books, a novel technology and a clear intention to expand, we asked Miller where he sees Lynk in the next decade:

“The mobile network operators are focused on faster speeds, which is called 5G. We think that what we’re doing is the biggest thing after 5G, faster speeds where you don’t have that connectivity. 5G doesn’t solve the zero G problem. Lynk solves the zero G problem. So we think both 5G and Lynk is the future of mobile network operators everywhere. By 2025 we’re going to have broadband everywhere to your phone – web, voice, data, continuous broadband data. And then within ten years, we’re going to have the fastest speeds in broadband possible to your phone from satellite. That’s our vision.”

About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins Telecoms.com on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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