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Spark teams up with Lynk for direct-to-cell satellite service

New Zealand telco Spark plans to launch a direct-to-cell satellite service in partnership with Lynk Global.

Spark this week said a trial was set to launch by the end of the year. The initial trial service will enable text messaging periodically during the day, building towards a more regular service during 2024 as more commercial satellites are deployed, including voice and data.

Initially, a subset of Spark mobile customers will be able to opt-in to a free trial, before rolling out to more customers as more satellites come online.

The new partnership follows a distribution agreement with network services company Netlinkz to provide Starlink connectivity services to Spark customers. The agreement follows a successful trial with a number of NZ businesses.

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

Tierney added: “This partnership with Lynk, and our partnership with NetLinkz to offer a satellite business connectivity service are part of Spark’s broader strategy to use satellite as a part of our connectivity offer to customers. We are continuing to work with these and other potential partners to broaden the services Spark can offer.”

Lynk sent its first Lynk Tower 1 ”orbital base station’ satellite into space last year. Two more Lynk Towers were launched into orbit in January. When commercially launched, the orbital base stations will be able to connect to existing standard mobile devices on Earth, providing 2G, 4G, and 5G connectivity, the company claims.

Last month rival telco 2degrees announced its own trial with Lynk, using the service for backhaul and business customers.

Lynk has signed commercial agreements with more than 25 MNOs covering more than 40 countries, including Vodafone Ghana, Globe Telecom in the Philippines, Telecel’s Centrafrique in the Central African Republic, and Rogers in Canada.

One NZ (previously Vodafone NZ) is partnering with Starlink for direct-to-cell services. Starlink has previously signed direct-to-cell agreements with T-Mobile in the US, Rogers in Canada, and Salt in Switzerland, as well as a backhaul deal with KDDI in Japan. Data Center Dynamics

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