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Mobile Satellite Services Association: A New Era of Global Connectivity

A coalition of five non-terrestrial network providers has launched the Mobile Satellite Services Association (MSSA) to connect satellites directly to mobile devices, creating a global direct-to-device ecosystem. The MSSA aims to expand terrestrial mobile coverage, adhere to 3GPP standards, and enable narrowband IoT services immediately due to the use of licensed spectrum.

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Mahnoor Jehangir
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Mobile Satellite Services Association: A New Era of Global Connectivity

Mobile Satellite Services Association: A New Era of Global Connectivity

Mobile Satellite Services Association: Bridging the Gap Between Space and Mobile

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A coalition of five non-terrestrial network (NTN) providers has launched the Mobile Satellite Services Association (MSSA), a pioneering initiative to connect satellites directly to mobile devices. The founding members - Viasat, Terrestar Solutions, Ligado Networks, Omnispace, and Al Yah Satellite Communications (Yahsat) - aim to develop a global direct-to-device (D2D) ecosystem using over 100MHz of L-band and S-band spectrum already allocated for mobile satellite services.

A New Era of Connectivity

The MSSA's mission is to expand terrestrial mobile coverage by adhering to 3GPP standards for mobile operators and OTT internet services. This move will enable narrowband IoT services immediately due to the use of licensed spectrum. The initiative comes at a time when competition is intensifying from companies like Lynk Global, AST SpaceMobile, T-Mobile US, Starlink, and Apple, which are also developing satellite-to-phone services.

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Mark Dankberg, the chairman of MSSA and CEO of Viasat, underlines the coalition's role in driving the development of this new marketplace. Ram Viswanathan, president and CEO of Omnispace, emphasizes the potential of MSSA to offer transformative D2D communication solutions globally.

Creating a D2D Ecosystem

The MSSA's goals include creating a D2D ecosystem with various stakeholders, including mobile operators, OEMs, and chip vendors. It also seeks to ensure respect for national sovereignty in space-related activities.

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This push for direct-to-device connectivity is not an isolated effort. Companies like OQ Technology are upgrading their satellite 5G NB-IoT RAN NTN technology and payload to allow direct connectivity to IoT devices and machines, and eventually to mobile phones. The market for direct-to-cellular connectivity is growing rapidly, with firms like SpaceX, Lynk, AST Mobile, and Iridium competing to offer this new service.

Setting New Standards

The challenge lies in establishing new standard direct-to-device frequency bands compatibility with existing devices and modules. OQ Technology, closely linked with the Luxembourg government and the European Space Agency, is at the forefront of this endeavor. Both entities are supporting the space business ecosystem as it navigates these uncharted waters.

As the race to connect satellites directly to mobile devices heats up, the MSSA's formation marks a significant milestone. It signals a collaborative effort to shape the future of global communication and push the boundaries of what's possible in the realm of mobile connectivity.

In this new era, the skies are no longer the limit. The MSSA and its partners are set to redefine how we connect, communicate, and interact with the world around us, bringing us one step closer to a truly interconnected planet.

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