Globe readies sat2phone service pilot in the Philippines

  • Lynk Global is one of a number of satellite players hooking up with mobile operators to enable satellite-to-smartphone services
  • It has been working with Globe Telecom, the second-largest mobile operator in the Philippines, for more than a year already
  • Now the telco is ready to trial a live customer pilot service in remote areas

Globe Telecom, one of the largest mobile operators in the Philippines, is to launch a live customer pilot of satellite-to-smartphone services in remote areas of the country in partnership with Lynk Global, which is building a constellation of low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites designed to deliver communications services from space to regular smartphones that are out of reach of terrestrial mobile network signals. 

Satellite-direct-to-phone (sat2phone) specialist Lynk has been working with Globe for more than a year now, having conducted tests of text messages and emergency alerts in early 2023. The new pilot will “assess the potential” of sat2phone services in “remote places in the Philippines”, with service availability expected before the end of this year, according to the partners. 

The pilot programme will ultimately deliver SMS texts, IP messaging apps and emergency alerts to target regions that currently lack traditional terrestrial network coverage in the vast archipelago nation. “These regions include far-flung locations with existing Globe enterprise clients and government installations, as well as tourist destinations with limited or unreliable cellular coverage,” noted the partners. 

Gerhard Tan, senior director and head of network strategy and innovations at Globe, which has about 59 million mobile subscribers (roughly the same as main domestic mobile rival Smart), noted: “In line with our goal of empowering Filipinos through digital technology, we are looking for a solution to bring life-saving connectivity to as many Filipinos as possible. Through this satellite-direct-to-phone service, we hope to provide access wherever our customers are, connecting the unconnected through disruptive technology.” 

James Alderdice, VP for Asia Pacific at Lynk, added: “As a country with over 7,641 islands, Lynk’s ability to provide mobile coverage for mobile customers directly from our network of LEO satellites helps connect more people in more places.”

Globe will also evaluate the viability of Lynk’s service along maritime routes, in disaster zones, fishing grounds and “other areas that need improved connectivity through extended communication solutions,” the partners noted. 

Lynk, which is on course to become a listed company in the second half of this year via a merger with Slam, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), is also working with about 40 mobile operators around the world, including Australia’s Telstra, Turkcell and Altice Portugal, to deliver services from what it describes as its “cell towers in space.” 

But it’s not the only one vying to dominate this market, as Eutelsat OneWeb, Elon Musk’s Starlink, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, AST SpaceMobile and more are also inking deals with mobile operators. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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