Satellite outfit Viasat partnered with non-terrestrial network (NTN) service provider Skylo Technologies to launch what they claimed would be the first global direct-to-device network, promoting compatibility with the 3GPP’s Release-17 specification.

The arrangement gives Skylo Technologies access to Viasat’s geostationary satellite constellation and licensed spectrum holdings acquired through a deal to buy Inmarsat and partnerships with other operators.

In a statement, the companies asserted the combination of the network with mobile network operator and chipset manufacturers would provide “new opportunities for OEMs that wish to embed connectivity” into a range of devices, along with vehicles and machinery.

Skylo Technologies connects standard IoT devices directly to satellites.

The network would enable IoT services by providing connectivity without the need for proprietary satellite hardware.

Initial deployments are scheduled for North America in 2024 using Ligado SkyTerra’s satellite network followed by a global rollout.

Andy Kessler, VP of enterprise and land mobile at Viasat, said the service will provide a framework for a global narrowband non-terrestrial network which gathers data from remote locations.  

The move potentially pits the duo against other direct-to-device satellite players such as Lynk Global and AST SpaceMobile who are looking to sign deals with mobile operators to help them extend their global coverage.