Direct-to-cell satellite firm AST SpaceMobile has secured a new line of credit that means its first tranche of five satellites is fully funded.

As part of the company’s Q2 2023 earnings update, AST announced the completion of a financing package providing up to $179 million of cash and liquidity.

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– AST SpaceMobile

As well as a previously announced $57 million and $7 million ATM program from earlier this year, the company has secured an up to $100 million Senior Secured Credit Facility and a $15 million Equipment-Backed Loan. The credit facility was provided by Atlas Credit Partners.

The money means the company's first five commercial satellites are fully funded for a planned Q1 2024 launch and initial commercial services in 2024.

Sean Wallace, chief financial officer of AST SpaceMobile, said: “We are thrilled to partner with Atlas Credit Partners as we continue to pursue our mission to eliminate the connectivity gaps faced by billions of people around the world. Atlas Credit Partners’ financial commitment to us is an important part of our comprehensive financing plan.”

Drew Mallozzi, chief investment officer and managing partner at Atlas Credit Partners, added: “The partnership recently announced with AST demonstrates ACP’s commitment to structuring flexible capital solutions for best-in-class companies. It’s a privilege to invest alongside so many global industry leaders and further position AST for long-term success.”

Lynk to offer direct-to-cell services in Cook Islands with Vodafone

Lynk Global and Vodafone Cook Islands are launching direct-to-cell mobile satellite services to the South Pacific island group.

The two companies last week announced the start of an initial satellite direct-to-mobile phone service to Vodafone Cook Island subscribers using Lynk’s ‘cell-towers-in-space.’

“Given the vast area of the Cook Islands, we at Vodafone have always sought innovative technology to improve connectivity to remote islands, atolls, and the sea in between. Lynk’s service is unique in addressing our need to extend our mobile coverage but without burdensome capex. We see our remote communities, our fishers, and visiting yachties making good use of the extra connectivity and coverage that Lynk provides,” said Phillip Henderson, CEO, Vodafone Cook Islands.

“Lynk has been entrusted to deliver initial service for Vodafone Cook Islands, which spans 15 islands and 1,960,027+ square kilometers of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that comprise the Cook Islands,” added Dan Dooley, Lynk’s chief commercial officer. “It is a staggering amount of territory, and Lynk is proud to work with Vodafone to connect their subscribers.”

Vodafone Cook Islands is the second mobile network operator (MNO) in the world to launch Lynk’s sat2phone technology as a subscriber service, after PNCC in Palau.

Vodafone’s Cook Islands unit can trace its roots back to 1990 when the Cook Islands Government partnered with Telecom New Zealand (NZ) to modernize telecommunications offerings in the country. In 2015 Telecom NZ (trading as Spark), sold its majority stake to a Bluesky Pacific Group consortium of private investors, controlled Amper SA. In 2016, Amper SA sold its interest in what was known as Bluesky Cook Islands to Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Ltd, which owns a majority stake in Vodafone Fiji, and renamed the company to Vodafone Cook Islands.

OneWeb signs distribution deal with AP Access International

OneWeb has signed a new distribution deal with satellite communications provider IP Access International. Under the deal, OneWeb’s satellite service will be offered to enterprises in the US through the IP’s SuperGIG-managed connectivity solution. Aggregating terrestrial and space-based networks into one service, the 500Mbps SuperGIG offering is designed specifically for public safety and enterprise-critical operations.

"Space-based communications have been a cornerstone of resilient communications for decades, but now with the OneWeb LEO constellation, our SuperGIG solution will be even faster with lower latency. This will be a game-changer for our clients," said Bryan Hill, CEO of IP Access.

The companies said the deal will enable connectivity in rural areas outside of cellular coverage areas, as well as in urban locations affected by events such as natural disasters and other conditions impacting connectivity.

Stephen Beynon, OneWeb’s chief commercial officer, said: “Adding OneWeb’s high-performance, low-latency connectivity to the IP Access International portfolio gives customers a new and even more robust solution to ensure they meet their mission, regardless of local connectivity services currently in place. We thank IP Access International and look forward to continuing to help provide reliable and secure solutions to mission-critical operations.”

Starlink dish dishy Starlink
– Sebastian Moss

Starlink signs distribution deal with Telefónica

Telefónica, through its global business unit Telefonica Global Solutions (TGS) has become an authorized worldwide partner of SpaceX’s Starlink.

TGS said it will be able to complement its existing offering by integrating Starlink's Enterprise solutions (fixed or mobile) into its global portfolio. The service has launched in Mexico and will be extended to other countries throughout the year, starting with Peru, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, and Spain. Telefónica and TGS partnered with OneWeb for a distribution deal last year.

“The satellite industry is undergoing an unprecedented revolution. Satellite enables connectivity projects to be executed very quickly and efficiently. At Telefónica Global Solutions, we have been offering added value satellite solutions for many years, and with this partnership, we start working hand in hand with Starlink Enterprise to offer new generation solutions to our customers,” said Julio Beamonte, CEO of Telefónica Global Solutions

Vocus has said early customers of its Starlink partnership include Northern Beaches Council in Sydney, which is using Starlink to connect 37 sites; The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA); and Community Enterprise Queensland. In the Northern Territories, the service is being used to connect regional councils in remote indigenous communities, by the Northern Land Council for their remote ranger stations, and by community health service providers in remote areas such as the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress. Also in Australia, Transport for NSW has said it is trialing free wi-fi at Nambucca Heads station via Starlink satellites.

Sports production firm MSTV recently used 5G and Starlink to transmit eleven hours of football from four football matches played by the Under 19 teams of Manchester United, Feyenoord, and other teams at the Mladen Ramljak Memorial Tournament in Croatia.

Starlink has launched in the Bahamas.

In Senegal, the government is reportedly arresting people selling Starlink in the country for “illegal provision of Internet access and irregular marketing” amid state-enforced Internet blackouts. Starlink has not officially launched in Senegal.

Five people have been arrested by the Department of Urban Security of the National Police for selling Starlink terminals without the required license or authorization, and face up to five years imprisonment and a fine of 60 million CFA ($100,000).

The Internet was shut down in Senegal at the end of July following the arrest of opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, who has been charged with fomenting insurrection. The government claimed the blackout was to prevent public order disturbances. A similar blackout was enforced in June.