Recently, a satellite sent text message to a smartphone for the first time. Read on to know more about it…
Modern telecommunication does, of course, rely heavily on satellites. They are involved in bridging vast distances back on Earth, bouncing data between different points in orbit before returning it to the ground. However what does not usually happen is a satellite communicating directly to a smartphone.
Recently, a satellite sent text message to a smartphone for the first time. A mobile network company called Lynk has just sent a text message from an orbiting satellite to a normal smartphone right here on Earth. Lynk was able to achieve this feat due to its patented ‘cell tower in space’ technology. Actually, these are satellites to be precise low-Earth nanosatellites that have the ability to directly connect to a normal smartphone.
Founder and CEO of Lynk, Charles Miller said in a press release, “This is a game-changer for the billions of people who own a mobile phone, for the billions who do not have affordable connectivity, and for the entire mobile communications industry.”
Satellite phones have existed to bridge that coverage gap for some time now, though they are usually exponentially more expensive — both for hardware and service — than regular phones. What Lynk is proposing is a network of satellites that could directly communicate, from orbit, with a regular off-the-shelf cellphone. It’s based on technology that can extend the range of a cellular signal to more than 300 miles, sufficient to reach from the ground to a constellation of satellites above.
Lynk revealed that the smartphones were unmodified, without any changes in hardware or software. Rather the innovation is with the technology developed for the satellite. As TechCrunch’s Devin Coley explains, these satellites are able to establish a connection on normal smartphone frequency which is different from a special satellite phone that establishes a connection on satellites frequency.
With its ‘cell tower in space’ technology, Lynk wanted to provide better broadband connectivity in every corner of the world. By removing the need for constructing a cell tower in remote locations, Lynk wishes to connect the people who can afford a phone but don’t have the infrastructure of a mobile network. To achieve its goal, Lynk has launched four satellites to create its network in space. The fourth spacecraft called ‘Lynk The World’ was launched aboard SpaceX’s CRS-20 mission on March 6th to allow further testing of technology.
Lynk’s strategy isn’t to replace every cell tower on the ground with a satellite. Instead, it aims to partner with operators and MVNOs, filling in gaps in their coverage with its satellite service. That way, your phone would be connected to a regular cell tower when one is within range, but could seamlessly switch to the constellation overhead when that’s no longer the case.
The Road Ahead
According to reports — in future — Lynk plans to create a network of several thousand satellites that will serve mobile subscribers on Earth. The first 55 satellites of the company weighing 25 kg each will appear in orbit in the coming years. Lynk even with this coverage will be able to begin to provide commercial services to other mobile operators.