2degrees successfully connects with Lynk 'celltowers-in-space'

2degrees says it has successfully connected with Lynk 'celltowers-in-space' .
2degrees says it has successfully connected with Lynk 'celltowers-in-space' . Photo credit: Supplied

Cellphone company 2degrees says it has successfully connected with Lynk Global's "cell towers in space", edging closer to providing New Zealanders with country-wide cellphone coverage.

The trial was conducted 30 minutes north of Whanganui in conjunction with sat2phone provider and partner Lynk Global. Lynk Global builds, launches, and operates ‘cell-tower-in-space’ satellites that provide direct-to-standard-phone (sat2phone) connectivity with global coverage, meaning it should work with most mobile phones currently available.

It's reported the "trial tested several handsets and a Lynk SIM card".

2degrees says the success of the test means a commercial rollout is edging closer - and remote areas will soon be accessible by phone.

"This is a big step. It proves the technology works, and allows us to move to the next step - trialling it on 2degrees SIM cards. Once we have done that, we'll look to start offering the service to customers," 2degrees CEO Mark Callander said.

"We also sent a couple of emojis - and Lynk thinks this is a world first."

One test sending a message from the satellite read, "New satellite - who dis? Just kidding. Hi 2degrees - this is Lynk Global here."

The company said it was now optimistic the coverage and services would expand over time.

"Initially, the service is limited to times when Lynk satellites are passing overhead. As more satellites are launched, the more frequent overpasses will become. Lynk has an aggressive launch schedule, so we will see this expand quickly over the coming couple of years.

"Ultimately, this will be a full cell service unbound by NZ's geography. Kiwis will be able to connect no matter where they are in NZ or our territorial waters. It's a game changer."

The company also said this meant they were "only months away from getting this into Kiwis hands".

Spark also said recently it is working on a satellite-to-mobile service for its customers, with 'details and timings to be announced soon'.