Five non-terrestrial network (NTN) providers banded together to form the Mobile Satellite Services Association (MSSA), with a goal of creating a global direct-to-device (D2D) ecosystem for connecting satellite services to mobile devices.

The founding members are Viasat, Terrestar Solutions, Ligado Networks, Omnispace and Al Yah Satellite Communications (Yahsat.) The companies explained MSSA was founded to utilise more than 100MHz of L-band and S-band spectrum that has already been allocated and licensed for mobile satellite services.

The association plans to align its efforts with 3GPP standards to extend terrestrial mobile coverage for both mobile operators and OTT internet services.

MSSA formed in the face of stiff competition from satellite-to-phone services from companies such as Lynk Global, AST SpaceMobile, T-Mobile US and Starlink, and Apple.

Lynk Global and AST SpaceMobile each claimed to be the first to provide two-way voice calls between a satellite and a standard mobile phone during 2023.

MSSA noted mobile satellite services’ use of licensed spectrum enables space networks to immediately offer narrowband IoT services.

Other benefits cited include an existing regulatory framework, no interference with terrestrial networks and more spectrum to develop 5G-NR services.

The non-profit association plans to build a direct-to-device ecosystem comprised of terrestrial and mobile operators, OEMs and chip vendors, among others.

“As a coalition of leaders with a unified voice, MSSA will be a driving force in making this new marketplace a reality, while respecting the rights of nations to meaningfully engage and retain sovereignty in a rapidly growing space economy,” stated Mark Dankberg, chairman of MSSA and CEO of Viasat.

Ram Viswanathan, president and CEO of Omnispace, noted MSSAcan only further our industry’s ability to offer game-changing D2D global voice, text and data solutions to billions of users, devices and industries worldwide”.