Lynk’s About to Begin Testing Cellular Connectivity

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UPDATE Lynk is on a mission to connect “anyone, anywhere, with just the mobile phone in their pocket” to affordable service. Now, the company is planning to test its first small satellite (defined as satellites under 1,100 lbs), which is already in orbit, to begin offering commercial service in early 2022, reported SpaceNews.

Last year, Lynk successfully transmitted text messages from a spacecraft in low Earth orbit to unmodified cell phones on the ground, according to Margo Deckard, its co-founder and chief operating officer. The tests were performed using payloads mounted on Cygnus cargo spacecraft, operating for a few weeks at a time, reported SpaceNews.

For the 2020 test, Lynk received an experimental license from the FCC. The company also worked with two mobile operators to test interference; both reported no issues from the Lynk transmissions, according to Deckard. 

 The satellite that’s ready for testing is the first in a 1,000-strong satellite constellation that will operate in orbits of 279 to 310 miles. The satellites will then naturally deorbit quickly at the end of their life. 

 The satellites will provide both voice and messaging services. “We can provide service globally to customers with intermittent coverage,” said Deckard. “With our initial commercial constellation, you’ll get connectivity every five to 20 minutes, depending on where you are on the planet.” 

According to SpaceNews, Lynk will use the same spectrum as wireless operators on Earth so customers can utilize unmodified phones. Deckard said the company would partner with mobile network operators to use their spectrum, obtaining permission from regulators to use the spectrum from space applications. 

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