Can Satellites Help Keep Cell Phones “Always On”?

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What if your cell phone could always be connected even in rural areas? That’s what a startup called Lynk is working on. Company CEO Charles Miller told attendees of the Americas Spectrum Management Conference on Wednesday his firm is building cell base stations in space on satellites. “When you’re in range of a terrestrial cell tower you connect to that tower, but if not, you’ll connect to a space cell tower.”

Lynk built a network of nano satellites. Miller says Lynk’s solution involves cell phones and satellite phones. In the future, those capabilities will be on one device. He also touted the affordability to build the Lynk system, noting that carriers and towercos will not build towers in areas where the economics don’t support that. 

The always-on connectivity would be especially helpful in rural areas and during disasters, said Miller. Tackling the tough economic nut of providing broadband to rural areas was the discussion topic.

Chris Murphy of Viasat spoke for the Global Satellite Coalition. He highlighted the industry’s need for more spectrum to keep up with growing data demands. Satellite networks can now dynamically allocate capacity, “making broadband more available and cost effective.”

Louis Peraetz of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, said his association believes it’s important to use reverse auctions to allocate spectrum. That way, services can be deployed in a cost-effective way.

Dan Ball, of the Senate Commerce Committee staff, listed legislation such as Mobile Now and Dig Once passed by lawmakers to aid the rural broadband effort. Ball said he didn’t know whether they would be included in a Continuing Resolution to get them passed by the entire Congress, rather than keeping them as standalone measures.

September 26, 2019

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