Spark New Zealand joined rivals in laying out plans to introduce a satellite-to-mobile service, partnering with Lynk Global to target a trial by the end of the year.

In a statement, Spark explained it will allow some customers to opt-in for a free trial, initially providing text messaging periodically during the day.

As more commercial satellites are deployed, it will deliver a more regular messaging service to a broader customer base in 2024.

It also plans to provide voice and data services once they be reliably available.

Spark product director Tessa Tierney said the operator believes “satellite has an important role to play in connecting Aotearoa New Zealand” and once more satellites are launched and the service is available more broadly, it will allow customers to start to use their phones in “more areas that aren’t reached by traditional mobile coverage”.

Tierney added the service and experience will improve and expand as the number of satellites increases.

“We also need to integrate the technology into our network and achieve regulatory approval to launch the service.”

Last week, Spark partnered with network-as-a-service company Netlinkz to provide remote connectivity from Starlink satellites to enterprise customers later in the year.

Rivals 2degrees and One New Zealand also have agreements with satellite providers to bring space-based service to customers in rural areas.