Bmobile launches Lynk satellite-phone service in Solomon Islands

Bmobile launches Lynk satellite-phone service in Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands operator bmobile has launched a satellite direct-to-mobile phone service to customers via a partnership with satellite phone operator Lynk Global, though the service only supports SMS for now.

Lynk’s Sat2Phone service uses LEOsats that serve as “cell towers in space”, enabling mobile users to place calls and send text messages via satellite using regular cell phones, rather than specially designed satellite phones.

Bmobile, which currently operates in four provinces across the islands (Guadalcanal, Malaita, Western and Central Province), will initially offer Lynk’s Sat2Phone service in Malaita as a beta service that supports cell broadcast (emergency) alerts, and two-way SMS. Lynk plans for the service to support voice calls and mobile broadband in the future. The startup demonstrated a successful two-way cellular voice call on its satellites in July.

Bmobile plans to extend the service next year to include all remote areas, including the Solomon Islands maritime economic exclusion zone, which covers more than 1.6 million kilometres.

“Bmobile now has the ability to further extend geographic mobile coverage for the people of Solomon Islands,” said bmobile CEO Devan Kula.

Lynk’s chief commercial officer Dan Dooley said Lynk will also be used to provide back-up services during natural disasters for added network resilience.

“With over 75% of Solomon Islands’ residents living outside urban areas in mostly small communities, Lynk’s service has the potential to be a game changer for residents and visitors alike,'' Dooley said.

Lynk also hopes to launch its service this year in Papua New Guinea with bmobile’s parent company Telikom.

Lynk currently has just three LEOsats in orbit to support the service, out of a planned constellation of 5,000. However, it says it’s signed commercial agreements with over 30 MNOs around the world. This year, Lynk launched initial services in Ghana, Palau and Cook Islands.

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