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Viasat, Ligado, and Skylo to Collaborate on Direct to Device Services

By Rachel Jewett | March 2, 2023

Via Satellite archive photo

Viasat, Ligado Networks, and Skylo Technologies plan to work together to offer direct-to-devices services, the companies announced Thursday. The three companies have signed a non-binding MoU to offer direct-to-device (D2D) satellite services via Ligado’s SkyTerra satellite network. 

The companies intend to launch commercial services in 2023 across a range of market segments including consumer smartphone, automotive, and defense applications. The partners aim to bring smartphone messaging, wearable connectivity, and IoT services connecting cellular devices to satellite connectivity. 

Viasat and Ligado have worked together in the past to provide mobile satellite services over the SkyTerra satellite, which covers North America and surrounding waters. The expanded agreement is to add Skylo’s technology for 3GPP Release-17 NTN industry standard waveforms and spectrum. It also adds Skylo’s sales and services to the team.

“Adding Skylo to our partnership with Ligado can help accelerate inclusion of first generation direct to satellite connectivity for a broad range of devices. Longer term, we believe space-based networks can help scale these applications by substantially increasing network data rates and capacity; increasing service convenience and availability; and reducing costs,” Viasat CEO Mark Dankberg commented. 

Skylo is backed by Softbank, and operates its own 3GPP standards-based NTN RAN and Core and is installed in existing ground stations that allow for large geographic coverage supported by Geostationary satellite networks. Skylo’s network is backed by Inmarsat satellite connectivity. The company recently signed deals with smartphone manufacturer Bullitt Group and IoT solutions company Quectel aimed at expanding connectivity through satellite through smart phones and IoT devices. 

“Enterprise IoT and consumer device markets are now demanding ubiquitous global coverage for applications such as logistics, agriculture, energy, maritime and emergency or out-of-coverage messaging,” said Parth Trivedi, CEO and co-founder of Skylo. “This collaboration unlocks a fantastic opportunity to develop an entirely new set of connectivity solutions for a rapidly expanding market.”