AST SpaceMobile has successfully established the first-ever 5G connection for voice and data between an unmodified smartphone and a satellite. This groundbreaking achievement took place with the participation of AT&T, a key partner of AST, and international wireless provider Vodafone.
The demonstration involved placing a call from Hawaii to Spain using AT&T spectrum and a Samsung Galaxy smartphone in a cellular dead zone. In addition to this, AST SpaceMobile achieved impressive download speeds of 14 Mbps, surpassing their previous record of 10 Mbps.
This milestone is part of a series of accomplishments in satellite-to-cellphone service that AST SpaceMobile and AT&T have been announcing. In April, they successfully completed a space-based voice call using an unmodified smartphone, and in June, they achieved a 10 Mbps data call.
It’s worth noting that other companies are also pursuing satellite-to-cellphone connectivity, such as T-Mobile, which has partnered with SpaceX. However, initial plans for T-Mobile’s service only include text capability.
AST SpaceMobile has emphasized the importance of partnering with a wireless provider when bringing their services to market. They currently have 40 agreements and understandings with carriers worldwide, potentially providing access to over two billion subscribers. Both AST and the provider share the revenue generated from the offering.
The AST service not only allows provider partners to monetize their existing spectrum and subscriber base, but also improves their networks by expanding coverage. As these developments in satellite-to-cellphone service continue to progress, regulatory bodies like the FCC may need to reconsider certain rules and regulations to accommodate this emerging technology.