AST SpaceMobile achieves space-to-smartphone 5G connection

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AST SpaceMobile has successfully established the first-ever 5G connection for both voice and data between a standard smartphone and a satellite in space.

The achievement was demonstrated by AST SpaceMobile’s engineers who orchestrated a call from the serene shores of Maui, Hawaii to a Vodafone engineer located in bustling Madrid, Spain.

What makes this achievement truly remarkable is that it was accomplished using an unmodified Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone, with the data transmission occurring via AT&T spectrum and AST SpaceMobile’s cutting-edge BlueWalker 3 test satellite.

Abel Avellan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at AST SpaceMobile, commented:

“Once again, we have achieved a significant technological advancement that represents a paradigm shift in access to information. Since the launch of BlueWalker 3, we have achieved full compatibility with phones made by all major manufacturers and support for 2G, 4G LTE, and now 5G.

Making the first successful 5G cellular broadband connections from space directly to mobile phones is yet another significant advancement in telecommunications AST SpaceMobile has pioneered.

We are more confident than ever that space-based cellular broadband can help transform internet connectivity across the globe by filling in gaps and connecting the unconnected.”

A historic 5G call was initiated on 8 September 2023 from a location where the smartphone was operating in a wireless dead zone. In a separate test, the company shattered its previous record for space-based cellular broadband data sessions by achieving an impressive download rate of approximately 14 Mbps.

These achievements follow AST SpaceMobile’s earlier milestones, including the completion of the first-ever space-based voice calls using unmodified smartphones in April and reaching initial download speeds exceeding 10 Mbps in June —empowering users to browse the internet, download files, use messaging apps, stream video content, and more.

Chris Sambar, Head of AT&T Network, said:

“These moments are extraordinary milestones in telecommunications history. These first-of-a-kind innovations would not be possible without ecosystem-wide collaboration.

We’re all working together to achieve the shared vision of space-based connectivity for consumers, businesses and first responders all around the globe.”

AST SpaceMobile has forged agreements and partnerships with more than 40 mobile network operators globally, collectively serving approximately 2.4 billion subscribers. Notably, Vodafone, Rakuten, American Tower, Samsung NEXT, and Bell Canada are among the investors supporting AST SpaceMobile’s groundbreaking endeavours.

Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia, commented:

“We congratulate AST SpaceMobile on their latest incredible achievement in completing a 5G voice call from space.

While we are of course proud that our AirScale portfolio is playing a key role in underpinning these networks, we must not lose sight of the bigger picture that space-based cellular broadband can provide crucial connectivity to underserved communities around the world.

At Nokia, we believe that everyone should have access to universal broadband services, and we look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with AST SpaceMobile on this game-changing initiative.”

This series of historic accomplishments forms part of AST SpaceMobile’s journey towards its goal of launching five commercial BlueBird satellites in Q1 2024. The company is currently hard at work constructing these satellites at its facility in Midland, Texas.

(Image Credit: AST SpaceMobile)

See also: SoftBank to distribute OneWeb’s services throughout Japan

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