“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 chip required. The company just demonstrated a two-way data link this week and 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.
Formerly known as Ubiquitilink, Lynk has been working up to this stage for years, with former Nanoracks founder Charles Miller at the helm. They emerged from stealth early in 2019 to explain that they had launched several test satellites to show that their theory that an ordinary phone could connect to a satellite in low Earth orbit. Early tests demonstrated they could counteract the noise, doppler shift, and other factors that prompted some experts to call the task impossible, and in 2020 they sent the first ordinary SMS directly from a satellite to a normal phone.
That in itself would have been a remarkable and useful capability to provide to governments and network providers. In emergencies, such as after natural disasters or during blackouts, ordinary mobile networks can’t be relied on to get important messages to affected regions. Lynk showed that a satellite could hit an entire city with an evacuation or shelter in place message, and indeed that may be one way the tech is used in the future.” Techcrunch
Comment: No, I don’t think so. As bandwidth grows with more and more satellites in their “constellation” voice telephony will be an inevitable outcome.
SpaceX put Lynk’s latest satellite, “Shannon,” into orbit and I will bet you a month’s pay (old Army expression) that Musk has his eye on this company as a target for M&A.
With his money and ingenuity behind them … pl
Lynk Signs Contracts with First Two Mobile Operators (yahoo.com)
Lynk demos global satellite connection for ordinary phones and prepares for commercial launch | TechCrunch
Interesting. My first thoughts are that once satellite internet to regular cellphones becomes a thing – via this system, Starlink or whatever – the first priority for certain countries will be how to stop their citizens from accessing it. How will the censors maintaining the Great Firewall of China deal with this, for example? Walls don’t block out the sky.
That’s going to be a big challenge for governments. If this technology allows any cellphone to get a connection without subscription (roaming mode?) and without control by local service providers, China and others are going to have to look at serious satellite signal blocking. Either that or banning cell phones. Good luck with that.
The bigger the problem the better.
Katrina all comms were dead except military field comms we set up. Even when they were back up, impossible to get through. The military comms were not long range, maybe 15 miles with some repeaters to expand it but less than 50 miles. We did have some SAT phones but not many. In the first 48 hrs though we had nothing. No comms, just driving around trying to save people.
This is why I loved my Garmin. It did not fail me the entire time. It was high tech back then. I didn’t have comms but at least I knew where the hell I was at all times with no street signs and no street lights.
SAT is absolutely the way to go. Should have been done a decade ago. That is a spending bill I would approve.
Besides facilitating communications during natural disasters, are there other, more common, advantages to this technology – like it’ll be cheaper to text and/or talk on a mobile phone from an airplane? I’ll be the first to admit I’m clueless about such things.
I recently put a new SIM in my ten year old Thuraya satphone, just to have an emergency backup. My experience is that regular cellular gets overloaded or cell towers battery backup is insufficient during emergencies. Furthermore the phone company wants me to abandon my old copper connection.
Good move. Our cellular system overloaded and collapsed on 9/11 around DC. We waited in lines around the few pay phones still in the area to call home. Even copper is not immune to collapse. From the beginning, those systems were only designed to handle a fraction of subscribers at one time. I don’t know how Thuraya and other satphone systems are set up. Maybe they handle it by limiting the number of handsets/subscribers or by price.
I know there are safety and life saving advantages to being connected everywhere and all the time. But I don’t like it. Life before cell phones was immensely enjoyable. Cell phone batteries are no longer easily removable. My phone has no GPS or camera and I can remove the battery in my pocket with one hand. More importantly, I seldom carry it or even turn it on. As a youth, we deliberately never even carried watches when we took off to the north woods for a week or so. The only exception we made was when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. I took a small transistor radio so we could listen to Walter Cronkite as we gazed at the Moon.
Totally agree. I rarely use my phone and I work IT. On the other hand, I have been responsible for saving lives during a national disaster and I could have save a lot of lives with that tech. Almost everyone in fact. I had no idea where they were, driving around aimlessly looking for them.
Certainly a mixed bag. Giving up something to gain something. Which is more valuable? Hard to say. The way they are targeting and seeking retribution with it is horrible and it is happening. Does that take a right seat ride to saving lives? I do not know this answer. From my vantage point, we are not responsible enough yet to use it for good. We are not there yet. Until that happens, it needs to be put in the parking lot.
“Life before cell phones was immensely enjoyable.”
Yes indeed. It’s often worth not carrying the albatross around.