Successful tests show that worldwide internet coverage with no strings attached is totally possible, and the globe could be fully connected by 2023.
Three months ago, Virginia-based space startup Lynk sent the world’s first satellite cell tower into orbit. Since then, it has reported successful connections from hundreds of mobile phones across the United States, United Kingdom, and the Bahamas, proving definitively that a direct connection from everyday mobile phones to satellite is indeed possible. Several companies, including SpaceX and Amazon, have been working on similar tech, but have so far only been able to create connections by routing the satellite’s signals through a physical terminal on Earth first. Lynk’s satellite, “Shannon,” on the other hand, needs no additional hard- or software and can be used by any mobile phone as-is.
Lynk’s goal for this technology is to create a worldwide broadband internet coverage, that reaches every remote, yet-unserviced location on Earth. They’re starting small, however, as Shannon’s limited bandwidth only allows for text message service. According to Lynk, this is already an important step towards saving the lives of those lost in the mountains or at sea. They also list the aftermaths of natural disasters such as hurricanes as events for which this texting service could be life-saving. To reach its long-term goal, the company would have to dramatically increase the number of satellites in orbit, which has already elicited some concern.