The days of “no signal” may be behind us with the advent of Lynk’s satellite network that lets any modern phone exchange data directly with a satellite overhead, no special antenna or cpu required. The company just demonstrated a two-way data links this week và announced its first network partners in Africa and the Bahamas — if everything goes well it may not be long before you can get a signal anywhere in the world.

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Formerly known as Ubiquitilink, Lynk has been working up khổng lồ this stage for years, with former Nanoracks founder Charles Miller at the helm. They emerged from stealth early in 2019 khổng lồ explain that they had launched several chạy thử satellites to lớn show their theory that an ordinary phone could connect to lớn a satellite in low Earth orbit. Early tests demonstrated they could counteract the noise, doppler shift và other factors that prompted some experts to hotline the task impossible, và in 2020 they sent the first ordinary SMS directly from a satellite to a normal phone.

That in itself would have been a remarkable và useful capability to provide to lớn governments & network providers. In emergencies, such as after natural disasters or during blackouts, ordinary thiết bị di động networks can’t be relied on khổng lồ get important messages to lớn affected regions. Lynk showed that a satellite could hit an entire thành phố with an evacuation or shelter in place message, và indeed that may be one way the tech is used in the future.

Ubiquitilink advance means every phone is now a satellite phone

But it wasn’t until last week that the company demonstrated a two-way connection between a phone và a satellite (their fifth, “Shannon”), allowing someone on the surface with no special equipment to, if there’s a Lynk satellite overhead, both receive và send data. Not a lot of data, of course — but more than enough for an SMS, a GPS location, a weather report, or the like. (Higher data rates will come later as more of the constellation goes up.)

“We have repeatedly demonstrated the two-way hotline flow required for a phone khổng lồ connect to lớn our cell tower in space,” said Miller in a press release. “This two-way hotline flow involves multiple instances of uplink và downlink signaling, including a device request for channel access, và then the corresponding authentication and location update procedures. To date, we’ve done this with hundreds of phones, và counting, in the UK, the Bahamas, & the US. This has never been proven before with a satellite cell tower and Lynk has done it.”

To say it’s a trò chơi changer is something of an understatement. Once Lynk puts a few more satellites in orbit, it could cover a good giảm giá of the planet in signal — a narrow & intermittent signal, lớn be sure, but that’s way better than nothing if you break your ankle while hiking in the backcountry or want lớn assure your family you’re okay after a hurricane knocks out nguồn in your city.

Image Credits: Lynk

“The ability khổng lồ send a text message, anytime and anywhere is the foundation of all safety. If you can send a message to lớn a friend, family member, or neighbor, that can be life saving,” Miller told me. “You might not even want it, but your wife or husband wants it so they don’t have to lớn worry. People are buying peace of mind.”

The first priority, he said, is to make emergency services available to lớn as many people as possible. A 911 gọi may not be possible yet, but an SOS message containing basic information and coordinates certainly would be, and this service is something that he wants lớn make sure is offered at zero or minimal cost, though it’s not entirely up to lớn them. But anything associated with an official emergency service would be free.

Ordinary messaging would work just like you have signal: either you can send live when the satellite is overhead, or you can put it in the outbox or send queue lớn be sent out when the space-based network bar appears.

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The company plans to lớn offer a free demonstration phầm mềm that can deliver a weather report for your location anywhere in the world, no matter what, và Miller said they’d be happy khổng lồ work with phone or ứng dụng makers khổng lồ integrate it with their OS or service.

Amazingly, access will require almost nothing whatsoever from the consumer. When the satellite is available, it will contact your phone just lượt thích any other carrier’s cell towers, since it really is one of those that just happens to lớn be in orbit. Your phone is always aware of the various networks around it other than the one you’re using — there’s a constant interplay in the background as different towers are queried & your signal handed off to lớn one or another, or re-registering on the network for whatever reason. You will have lớn authorize it one way or another, but there will be an phầm mềm to help with that, as well as agreements among the networks.

As khổng lồ that, the company is partnering first with Aliv in the Bahamas & Telecel Centrafrique in the Central African Republic. Miller said they are in talks with networks in dozens of countries, including the U.S., but these small-scale deployments are a first step — & the people there really need it. Rural central Africa and remote islands in the Bahamas may not have much in common, but one thing they bởi is large areas with spotty signal.

Whatever the carrier decides to charge, Lynk gets a chia sẻ of that, and Miller said they’re leaving that up to lớn networks to decide: “People will pay a reasonable price per message. If you can charge 5, 10, trăng tròn cents per message at the beginning, we’ll let our partners decide, people will pay for it.” Over time, as the service is more widespread & cheaper for Lynk khổng lồ provide, the price will (presumably) drop.

Naturally the idea of constant connectivity may clash with the idea many have of privacy. But Miller emphasized that they have no interest in customer data. “You’re our customer, not our product. We’re not interested — it would be very dangerous,” he said. With the significant exception of 911 calls or SOS messages being a tacit request to provide one’s location, he said they’re deliberately building khổng lồ avoid this kind of conflict.

The company is in talks with dozens of network operators around the world, but regulatory và market questions remain in many places, such as the U.S., where the FCC will need lớn weigh in. But Miller feels certain they’re on their way lớn becoming a major part of the global communications infrastructure.

“The điện thoại thông minh in your pocket is lượt thích a superpower, it magnifies your abilities as a human being,” Miller said. “But your superpower is broken when you’re not connected. We solve that problem.”