Tue. Sep 26th, 2023
Ast SpaceMobile Prototype Satellite Achieves 14Mbps Download Rate

A prototype satellite developed by AST SpaceMobile has set a new record by delivering a 14Mbps download rate, enabling internet access on unmodified smartphones. The test was conducted in Maui, Hawaii, where the satellite successfully beamed the internet to a phone located in a remote area. The phone was able to make a video call using 4G spectrum, showcasing the satellite’s capabilities.

In another test, a Samsung Galaxy S22 handset made a phone call from a wireless dead zone in Hawaii to Spain using AT&T’s 5G radio spectrum through the satellite. This is interesting as AT&T is still working on implementing voice over 5G on its ground-based cellular networks. The phone call demonstrated clear audio quality, with Vodafone and Nokia also contributing to the test.

AST SpaceMobile has achieved these breakthroughs using the BlueWalker 3 test satellite, equipped with the largest communication array in low-Earth orbit, which allows it to function as a cell tower in space. Previous tests involved phone calls and a 10Mbps download using 4G spectrum, and now the latest test has shown compatibility with AT&T’s 5G radio spectrum.

CEO Abel Avellan stated that the technology has achieved compatibility with phones from major manufacturers and supports 2G, 4G LTE, and now 5G. However, there is no information available yet regarding latency or coverage limitations. The goal is to offer commercial service starting next year, with plans to launch five finalized BlueBird satellites in the first quarter of 2024.

AST SpaceMobile aims to make internet access easier for users in remote areas. The technology not only supports basic voice and text but also enables browsing, file downloading, messaging apps, and video streaming on everyday smartphones. The company recently secured an additional $115 million in financing through loans to fund the construction of more BlueBird satellites, showcasing confidence in the project’s potential.