The 2020 RealLIST Startups nominee announced Tuesday that it had officially applied for a commercial operators license with the Federal Communications Commission. If approved, the company could begin launching 10 satellites next year to establish a mobile network that would tap into satellites instead of cell towards for calls and texts.
CEO Charles Miller said that means service anytime, anywhere without any worry about poor connections. Customers would use the network without needing to change anything to their phones. Instead, the technology works similar to roaming networks when traveling internationally, where providers would contract with Lynk to use its system.
Already, the company has signed contracts with the Air Force and UK Space Agency. But while it plans to have more in the future, the company will be starting off with a flagship carriers program where it will partner with, at most, a dozen carriers to test out its system.
An FCC application approval would allow for 10 initial small satellites, but Lynk plans to have a few thousand in service by 2025. Longer-term, it wants to have 5,000 satellites in orbit. The company also plans to build them with space sustainability in mind, creating smaller, low-risk satellites that operate in a “self-cleaning” orbit which prevents dead satellites from remaining in orbit for extended periods of time. The FCC approval is part of its plan to reduce space debris by applying for U.S. regulatory standards, instead of with a country with less-rigorous standards..
“As an American company, we are fortunate to have the FCC, whose process is trusted by officials around the world, to license our satellites,” Miller said in a statement. “We believe that being good corporate citizens means at every point in the process you must be rigorous—whether it is eliminating harmful interference or minimizing orbital debris.”
To date, Lynk has also raised $20 million from local investors including Blazar Ventures and D.C.-based Revolution, but the company is looking to begin a $100 million funding round later this year for additional satellite builds. It is also currently hiring for 12 positions at its headquarters, with more positions likely opening up following the fresh funding.
Here’s a graphic showing plans for the network from the company: