New Zealand telecommunications company Spark has recently announced a partnership with LEO satellite operator Lynk Global, marking a significant milestone in mobile connectivity for the country. This collaboration follows similar partnerships that other New Zealand mobile operators have engaged in with satellite connectivity providers, boosting their network coverage beyond traditional barriers.
By the end of this year, Spark will trial Lynk’s direct-to-consumer mobile connectivity, offering some customers the chance to participate for free. Lynk Global, founded in 2017, is among the first satellite operators in the world to target direct-to-mobile connectivity. It has successfully launched three satellites, testing the technology in 21 different nations.
As a result of its projected additional satellite launches by the end of the year, Lynk aims to provide limited commercial services. However, to offer continuous global broadband services, the company will need approximately 1,000 devices in orbit by 2025. This number could eventually increase to around 5,000 to accommodate the growing global demand for connectivity.
Lynk’s initial deployment remains relatively limited, so the trial with Spark will only support text messaging at specific times of the day. However, as more satellites are launched over the next couple of years, the availability of service is expected to improve, with voice and data services planned for introduction.
Spark’s ambitious goal is to utilize Lynk’s satellite constellation to deliver near-universal coverage throughout New Zealand. Such widespread connectivity may not be flawless, but as Tessa Tierney, Spark’s product director, stated: “While satellites can’t provide 100 percent coverage, it certainly adds an additional layer of resilience, particularly now, as we face increasingly severe and frequent weather events due to climate change.”
Spark’s foray into satellite connectivity is part of the company’s recently unveiled three-year strategy, which emphasizes investments in data centers and new connectivity technologies, including satellites. The company follows in the footsteps of its counterparts in the country, as 2degrees announced a similar deal with Lynk in April, and Vodafone New Zealand has committed to using SpaceX’s Starlink constellation from late 2024.
The increasing adoption of satellite connectivity by major telecommunication companies promises to significantly impact the international telecoms sector. By overcoming geographical limitations and increasing resilience to climate change challenges, this trend signifies a new frontier in mobile connectivity around the globe.