International connectivity enabler BICS has signed an agreement with satellite-direct-to-phone telecoms company Lynk Global to enable mobile network operators (MNOs) to expand mobile coverage to people in remote areas around the world.
Explaining the rationale behind the agreement, the companies quoted data from global mobile industry trade body GSMA, calculating that 6% of the world’s population lives in the telecoms digital divide.
This means around 450 million people are locked out of digital communications – excluded from all the educational, social and economic advantages that a connected world can offer.
They added that despite advancements, many remote areas still remain largely unconnected because of the costs associated with building and maintaining land-based cell towers.
Lynk’s so-called “cell tower in space” technology is designed to address this problem by providing a satellite-direct-to-mobile-phone service.
By partnering with MNOs, BICS and Lynk aim to connect people who have, until now, lived completely off the grid, otherwise known as 0G. Global mobile data services provider BICS uses its network to pair Lynk’s satellite constellation and the world’s mobile operators.
Lynk’s technology allows standard roaming partner integration without any hardware or software changes to the mobile operators’ networks, bringing coverage to remote areas, islands and even offshore.
Coverage areas will include North America, the Caribbean, Latin America, South-East Asia and several rural areas in Africa. Pairing Lynk’s patented satellite technology and BICS’ network, mobile operators will see network coverage extended to these areas that lack terrestrial cell towers.
“Mobile service is taken for granted by so many people who live in cities and suburbs, but we need to remember that billions of people still experience extended periods of disconnectivity, and hundreds of millions live without any connectivity,” said Charles Miller, Lynk CEO and co-founder.
“Being left out of the digital world creates barriers to economic growth and social improvement – trapping hundreds of millions in the deepest poverty,” he said. “It also eliminates access to basic emergency services, making life more dangerous. Our partnership with BICS will allow MNOs to affordably expand their coverage and connect more people, saving lives and accelerating economic development for those living in the remotest parts of the world.”
The company’s Americas vice-president, Frédéric Mathieu, said: “The BICS firmly believes that connected communities are stronger communities.
“With Lynk, we recognised the chance to create something very meaningful and special for our mobile network operators’ partners and their subscribers. This partnership is about building bridges so that more people can connect to and benefit from a connected society than ever before.”