Interview: Lynk Global CEO Charles Miller believes mobile operators will need a choice in satellite suppliers, as the company aims to make the most of a first-mover advantage in a competitive market.

Miller claimed in a Mobile World Live podcast that his company is well positioned to thrive in the satellite-to-phone sector despite competition from companies such as AST SpaceMobile and SpaceX-owned Starlink.

He points to the company’s beta commercial deployments across seven countries and its 43 MNO commercial service contracts across more than 50 countries as proof that his company will flourish.

AST SpaceMobile and Starlink are yet to launch commercial services with operators but are backed by major players. AT&T, Google and Vodafone are strategic investors in AST, while Starlink of course is part of Elon Musk’s tech empire.

Lynk’s deployments to date are SMS or emergency alert services (compatible with any smartphone), but Miller states the fundamental satellite-to-phone technology is proven for additional services and applications such as voice and broadband.

“Everything that you do on a mobile phone, you’ll be able to do everywhere. That’s where this is really going,” he stated.

Satellite supplier choice
As for the competition, he noted operators have long held multiple partnerships with vendors such as Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia, and he expects similar arrangements to occur in space.

“I think the key insight, particularly for your audience, the people in the mobile wireless space and MNOs, is that there’s going be multiple providers for satellite direct-to-phone,” he said. “That’s the way MNOs want it. They don’t want anybody to have a monopoly and be dependent on one provider”.

But first satellite providers need to build out their constellation of birds to provide global services to areas where there’s little to no connectivity or in locations away from cell tower coverage.

Miller noted Lynk Global currently has three operational satellites and another two working their way towards achieving orbit. Lynk Global’s goal is to have 5,000 birds, but that will require additional capex.

Lynk Global announced a planned merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Slam late last year (scheduled to be completed this summer), which included a plan for the company being publicly listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange in the second half of 2024.

The CEO noted Slam approached Lynk Global about the merger because it saw the value in investing in a satellite provider.

In partnership with Slam, Lynk Global needs to raise additional capital in the coming months, but Miller expects a virtuous cycle of investments once the satellite services are widely available.  

“We will have dozens of countries be operational and after we are operational and ramping up revenue we’ll be in a position to raise even more capital,” he said.

He noted doubling the transistor counts in satellites every few years is revolutionising the cost and capability of satellites. Another factor for lowering the cost of building constellations is the increased availability of rockets to launch the birds from companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin.

To listen to the Podcast, click here.