AST SpaceMobile, which is building the first space-based cellular broadband network accessible directly through regular cell phones, has announced another unprecedented step toward the goal. The first ever 5G connection for voice and data transmission between an ordinary, unmodified smartphone and a satellite was successfully carried out.
The company’s engineers demonstrated space-based 5G communication by calling a Vodafone engineer in Madrid from Maui (Hawaii, USA) using AT&T spectrum and AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 test satellite.
The 5G call was made on September 8, 2023, from an unmodified Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone located near Hana, Hawaii, in a wireless dead zone. Testing of 5G communication was carried out thanks to the cooperation of AST SpaceMobile, Vodafone, AT&T and Nokia. In a separate test, the company broke its previous space record for a cellular broadband data session, achieving download speeds of around 14 Mbps.
These historic achievements follow AST SpaceMobile’s announcement in April that the company had made the first-ever voice calls from space using ordinary, unmodified smartphones. In June, AST SpaceMobile announced that the satellite had achieved initial download speeds of more than 10 Mbps. Since June, the company has been conducting a comprehensive testing program with its partners, which includes additional voice calls, 4G video calls, and now 5G mobile broadband. These speeds, in addition to supporting basic voice and text, also allow you to browse the web, download files, use messaging apps, stream video, and more on regular smartphones.
“We have once again achieved significant technological progress, which represents a paradigm shift in access to information. Since the launch of BlueWalker 3, we have achieved full compatibility with phones from all major manufacturers and support for 2G, 4G LTE, and now 5G, said Abel Avellan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AST SpaceMobile. – The first successful connection of 5G broadband from space directly to mobile phones is another significant telecommunications achievement pioneered by AST SpaceMobile. We are more confident than ever that space-based mobile broadband can help transform internet connectivity around the world, bridging the gaps and connecting the unconnected.”
“We congratulate AST SpaceMobile on its latest incredible achievement – making a 5G voice call from space. Of course, we are proud that our AirScale portfolio plays a key role in supporting these networks, but we must not lose sight of the bigger picture that space-based cellular broadband can provide critical connectivity for underserved communities around the world “, emphasized Tommi Uitto, President of Nokia Mobile Networks.
AST SpaceMobile has more than 2,600 patents and patent applications for its technology and has built a state-of-the-art facility in Midland, Texas, totaling 185,000 square feet. The company also has agreements and arrangements with more than 40 mobile operators worldwide, which have approximately 2.4 billion subscribers.
AST SpaceMobile is well on its way to its goal of launching five commercial BlueBird satellites in the first quarter of 2024 and its continued efforts to push the boundaries of what is possible in the telecommunications industry. The company currently builds BlueBird satellites at its facility in Midland, Texas.