Lynk, a rival to SpaceX, is testing 5G cell phone service from orbit

The race for speedy internet from space has reached a new level. Lynk, a rival to SpaceX, aims to launch an experimental 5G cellular base station aboard a flight in December, in collaboration with an unnamed cellular partner. Lynk's second commercial satellite will carry the experimental payload. This test will show that a 5G signal can be sent from space to ordinary mobile devices on Earth.

The test is a warning shot to SpaceX, which has already inked a contract with T-Mobile for cellular service but, unlike Lynk, does not yet have FCC certification. Lynk just recently obtained the coveted FCC thumbs-up. Lynk and SpaceX are competing for market access to those living in remote locations who do not have regular internet connectivity. SpaceX wants to beam 5G broadband internet service through a fleet of thousands of Starlink satellites, while Lynk has an emergency access plan via an orbiting cell tower.

Lynk tested a satellite-to-phone service link through satellite last year and is rapidly building its service in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Lynk's chief commercial officer, Dan Dooley, stated, "We are actively testing satellite-direct-to-phone services in 12 countries across five continents." The patent granted to the business allows the circling cell tower to communicate with regular 5G devices in 55 nations.

5G service is a next-generation cellular access speed enhancement that provides faster network speeds to enable the Internet of things or the rising fleet of linked devices in businesses ranging from shipping to household appliances.

Lynk currently provides software-designed radios that can switch between slower-but-still-viable 2G and 4G speeds for the mobile network providers it hopes to acquire as clients. Meanwhile, SpaceX also filed a complaint with the FCC regarding plans to open up the lucrative 12 gigahertz band to another 5G competitor, Dish, claiming that doing so will interfere with existing communications on Starlink satellites.

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