Spark, the leading telco in New Zealand, announced it is collaborating with Lynk Global to offer a satellite-to-mobile service, aiming to enhance connectivity for its customers. Later this year, selected customers will be offered a free trial of the service.
The satellite-to-mobile service will enable periodic text messaging throughout the day during the initial trial. However, as more commercial satellites are deployed, Spark intends to expand the service in 2024 to offer more regular connectivity. The ultimate goal is to provide voice and data services to customers once they become reliably available.
Spark said while satellite coverage cannot reach 100 percent due to the requirement of a clear line of sight to the sky, it offers an additional layer of resilience, especially in light of increasingly severe and frequent weather events caused by climate change. By leveraging satellite connectivity, Spark aims to extend its network reach to areas that are currently underserved by traditional mobile coverage.
According to the Spark press release, the trial period will provide an opportunity to refine and enhance the service in alignment with the increasing number of satellites in orbit. Integration into Spark’s network and regulatory approval are also essential steps before the service can be officially launched.
Photo Credit: Spark New Zealand
The collaboration with Lynk Global and the existing partnership with Netlinkz, which aims to provide satellite broadband services, are part of Spark’s broader strategy to leverage satellite technology as part of its connectivity offering to customers. Spark says it is actively working with various partners to expand the range of services it can deliver.
In a separate announcement last week, Spark revealed its partnership agreement with Netlinkz to provide Starlink business-grade satellite broadband to customers later this year. This initiative follows ongoing trials with a select number of New Zealand businesses.
Spark Product Director, Tessa Tierney, said, “We believe satellite has an important role to play in connecting Aotearoa New Zealand. While satellite can’t provide 100% coverage – as you need a clear line of sight to the sky to get connected2 – it certainly adds an additional layer of resilience, particularly now, as we face increasingly severe and frequent weather events due to climate change. And once there are more satellites launched and the service is available more broadly, it will allow our mobile customers to start to use their phones in more areas that aren’t reached by traditional mobile coverage.”
“We know that our customers will be eager to start using satellite messaging, but the technology is still evolving, so the service and experience will improve and expand as the number of satellites in the sky increases. That’s why we’ve chosen to trial this technology with some of our customers first, to make sure we can offer a great product to our customers when we make it widely available. We also need to integrate the technology into our network and achieve regulatory approval to launch the service. But we are excited to see the possibilities this creates for New Zealanders and will be working hard to make it widely available as soon as we can.
“This partnership with Lynk, and our partnership with NetLinkz to offer a satellite business connectivity service are part of Spark’s broader strategy to use satellite as a part of our connectivity offer to customers. We are continuing to work with these and other potential partners to broaden the services Spark can offer.”
Spark’s introduction of satellite-to-mobile services and business-grade satellite broadband underscores its commitment to enhancing connectivity options for customers across the country, particularly in underserved areas. Spark said further details, including eligibility criteria and timelines, will be disclosed in the coming months.