Regional mobile operator bmobile has teamed up with Lynk Global to enhance coverage in the Solomon Islands, a nation situated northeast of Australia. As of November 6, bmobile’s subscribers in the Solomon Islands can now use their existing cellular phones to send and receive text messages in Makira, one of the country’s provinces, thanks to Lynk’s low Earth orbit (LEO) constellation.
Previously, bmobile’s coverage was limited to only four provinces in the Solomon Islands. However, with Lynk’s direct-to-device satellite technology, bmobile plans to expand coverage across the entire island nation next year. This expansion will be made possible as Lynk adds more satellites to improve coverage and reduce latency.
The Solomon Islands has a significant portion of its population residing outside urban areas in small communities. With Lynk’s LEO satellites, low-bandwidth services like texts and SOS alerts can be accessed a few times a day when the spacecraft pass overhead.
Lynk’s venture is planning to launch three additional one-meter-squared satellites this fall, aiming for a total constellation of 5,000 satellites. Furthermore, Lynk has also announced a partnership with Telikom, the parent company of bmobile, to provide service in Papua New Guinea.
The financial details of these partnerships have not been disclosed. Lynk has previously collaborated with other telcos, including Vodafone Cook Islands and Palau National Communications Corporation, in island nations where deploying traditional communications infrastructure is challenging.
Direct-to-device satellite services have the potential to tap into a market worth over $100 billion. However, obstacles like spectrum availability and service affordability need to be addressed, particularly for individuals with limited disposable income who currently lack access to terrestrial network coverage.
AST SpaceMobile is also expected to announce updates regarding its plans to compete in the market. After securing the necessary funding, the company is developing its own dedicated direct-to-device satellite constellation.