Sky and Space Global have unveiled a new series of nanosatellites for a communications network it is building to connect customers in developing countries.

Known as “The Pearls”, the satellites build on technology introduced in Sky and Space Global’s (ASX:SAS) “3 Diamonds” satellites which were sent into orbit earlier this year.

The news pushed Sky and Space shares 6 per cent higher to 18c in Tuesday afternoon trade.

“The pearls are our fully developed satellite, each twice the size of the diamonds,” director Brett Mitchell said.

“Our commercial demonstration has been fully operational and successful in providing narrowband telecommunication services. From here we’ll be building 200 of the Pearls to make up the equatorial constellation network.”

Voice calls, instant messaging and data transmission have so far been tested via the 3 Diamonds devices. Sky and Space hopes to tap into a niche telecommunications market for developing countries either side of the equator.

“Our whole business model is to provide narrowband services for the poorest people in the world,” Mr Mitchell said.

“We’re not competing with cellular, but trying to disrupt the market by providing telecommunications to people who previously could not afford it.”

The Pearls, to be built in Denmark and launched in late 2018, are powered by a 3 metre sun-tracking solar panels which allow 24/7 operation.

Once operational, customers can tap into the service through a dedicated smartphone satellite device or through an adapter. The service is planned to go live in 2020.

“We are the first in the world to have successfully launched and operated nano-satellites for this application and to have a network that communicates with each other,” Mr Mitchell said.

Each Pearl nanosatellite has a lifespan of about seven years, with 25 per cent of the network to be replaced each year.