First Huge Advancement in Satellite D2D

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A clash is brewing in the satellite direct-to-device (D2D) market as another company claims a significant milestone.

Lynk is currently working on a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation, referred to as “cell towers in space,” with the goal of providing direct connectivity to unmodified, off-the-shelf devices. Recently, the company announced that it has successfully conducted two-way voice calls over its network, presenting a video on YouTube as evidence and proclaiming it a world first.

However, AST SpaceMobile, a rival D2D operator, made a similar claim back in April. With the backing of AT&T, Vodafone, and Rakuten, they conducted a two-way voice call between the US and Japan using their own satellite network.

The reason Lynk insists they were the first is because they shared a video of the calls, believing it gives them a stronger claim to the title. Charles Miller, Lynk’s co-founder, and CEO, explained their rationale, drawing upon Carl Sagan’s quote: “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” He emphasized Lynk’s commitment to a higher standard and pointed out that when they achieved the first-ever connection from a satellite to a standard phone on Earth in March 2020, they released a video as evidence.

The video shows some smartphones used for the test displaying unusually-formatted phone numbers, which are identified as Lynk’s test SIM numbers in the captions. Apart from that, the video mainly depicts people standing in a park, making calls from foldable tables set up about 30 feet apart, and confirming their ability to hear each other while stating that they are calling over satellite. There are also scenes of calls taking place while walking, in Virginia at night, and apparently in London.

Ultimately, it is up to viewers to watch the video and decide whether it presents more conclusive proof than AST SpaceMobile’s claims, which were also supported by a YouTube video.

While companies in the telecom and tech sectors are occasionally known to exaggerate their achievements, it is unlikely that they would outright lie about them. Both Lynk and AST SpaceMobile have likely achieved successful voice calls over their satellite direct-to-smartphone networks, accomplishments worthy of recognition.

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