Viasat and Skylo Technologies, the non-terrestrial network (NTN) service provider, have unveiled reportedly the world’s first global direct-to-device (D2D) network. Through their global infrastructure agreement, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), device manufacturers, and chipset producers can now introduce 3GPP Release 17 compliant products to the market, leveraging Viasat’s extensive global network coverage.
This initiative merges Skylo’s satellite technology based on Release 17 with Viasat’s geostationary, L-band satellite constellation and licensed spectrum holdings, including those of its subsidiary, Inmarsat, and other satellite operator partners. The network is designed to support consumer smartphone services while unlocking the potential for massive applications in the Internet of Things (IoT), automotive, and defence sectors.
Collaboration with MNOs and chipset manufacturers within the network opens avenues for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) seeking to embed connectivity into smartphones, wearables, vehicles, machinery, and other devices. IoT solution providers gain access to connectivity and cost-effective hardware for global scalability.
Industries such as food production, mining, and logistics will benefit from enhanced connectivity experiences, whether through cellular or satellite, eliminating the need for proprietary satellite hardware. This approach reduces end-user costs, contributing to the optimisation and sustainability of global production and supply chains.
The D2D network harnesses Viasat’s global L-band capabilities and partner satellite operator networks, known for their reliability and trusted by governments for delivering mission-critical data. Viasat’s geostationary licensed L-band network is suitable for D2D services, eliminating the need for terrestrial spectrum or global regulatory changes.
Initial deployments are scheduled for early 2024 in North America, utilising the Ligado SkyTerra satellite network, followed by a global rollout. Partners and customers can access services through either Viasat or Skylo.
Andy Kessler, Vice-President, Enterprise and Land Mobile at Viasat, said: “Our agreement with Skylo marks a pivotal point for global connectivity. There is now the framework for a global narrowband non-terrestrial network with unique levels of resilience, that can support the innovation of MNOs, chipset manufacturers, OEMs and IoT solution providers, as they come together and build next-generation solutions for businesses, governments and consumers. The global production and supply chain will now gain access to data from the remotest edge, where it is often-most valuable, with the same level of effort as they would in a city connected by cellular 5G.”
Anton Monk, Vice-President of Wireless Initiatives at Viasat, added: “We are delighted to work with Skylo and our launch partners to deliver a global network, which will unleash the potential of direct-to-device connectivity for all. This network is available for testing today and will enable global market entry for innovators. Building the network on L-band geostationary satellite technology means it doesn’t require special licensing of the terrestrial spectrum and by utilising the 3GPP standard there is assured interoperability, particularly as exciting new Releases follow Release 17.”
Tarun Gupta, CPO and Co-Founder of Skylo, stated: “This collaboration with Viasat represents an inflection point in the evolution of connectivity. By merging our groundbreaking 85+ patents and 3GPP Release-17-based satellite technology with Viasat’s extensive geostationary network, spectrum capabilities and partnerships, we are unlocking a world of unprecedented connectivity. This network is not just a technological breakthrough; it’s a catalyst for inclusive, global innovation – bringing high-quality, affordable connectivity to every corner of the planet, revolutionising industries from agriculture to transportation, and enhancing lives in both urban and remote communities.”