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Lynk signs Aliv and Telecel Centrafrique – first clients for its LEO satellite service

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Brings back-up to the Bahamas and new connectivity to Central Africa.

US satellite company Lynk has upstaged the UK’s airborne 5G masts by launching cell towers in space.

This week Stratospheric Platforms reveals its plan to address the 5G UK market by broadcasting from planes. Lynk has moved up one level in the celestial stack with a low earth orbit (LEO) satellite that aims to bring connectivity to Africa.

Lynk’s LEO satellites differs from existing services like Starlink and OneWeb by making a direct connection with devices rather than going through a terrestrial hub, reports Telecoms.com

Difference is proprietary

The secret sauce is proprietary technology that makes the device think it’s dealing with a regular base station. Bahamas-based Aliv and Telecel Centrafrique, in the Central African Republic, were the first mobile operators to pioneer this service.

Telecoms analyst Scott Bicheno questioned whether phones can speak directly to a satellite without degrading the service. If so, he asked, why isn’t everyone doing it? If the connection, bandwidth and price prove durable over Lynk there could be wider ramifications for other satellite connectivity providers.

That’s the whole point, according to Lynk co-founder and CEO Charles Miller. “This speaks to the visionary leadership of Aliv and Telecel Centrafrique, which recognise the powerful benefits of providing universal mobile broadband to their customers,” said Miller.

Lynk is solving a problem that nobody else in the world is tackling, said Miller.

Anyone providing coverage in regions with extreme weather, like the Caribbean, must be sure to have emergency comms back-up, said Stephen Curran, Aliv’s CTO. “Lynk will provide that critical service on land and for our maritime users – with the phones they have in their pockets today. We are very excited with the testing and look forward to rolling this out next year to our users,” said Curran.

Smashing the class of service ceiling 

Telecel Centrafrique's CEO Malek Atrissi said the operator wants to bridge the digital divide by extending its services to all the population, wherever they are. For every central african, telecoms has become a basic need - whether in voice, data, fintech or any other digital service, Atrissi said.

“We urge others in our continent to see Lynk as an optimal solution to help support our mutual mission as operators – to bring us together with safe, good quality and continuous communication. We know that it enhances the lives of our citizens to have access to mobile services and give them constant and continuous access,” said Atrissi.

The two clients are the first to be signed in Lynk’s four years since it started the service and it has now applied to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for an operator’s license. It aims to offer worldwide LEO connectivity from 2022.