AST SpaceMobile, a company building the first space-based cellular broadband network accessible by smartphones, has provided a business update for Q3. In November 2022, the company announced the successful bridging of the satellite-smartphone barrier with the BlueWalker 3. This involved integrating Radio Access Network software and coding for Operations Support Systems (OSS) and Business Support Systems (BSS) software, allowing the delivery of 5G and 4G broadband data and voice services. AST SpaceMobile is partnering with operators like AT&T, Rakuten Mobile, stc, and Vodafone.
Chairman and CEO of AST SpaceMobile, Abel Avellan, stated that their first five commercial satellites are being manufactured at their facilities in Texas. They are on track for an expected launch in Q1 2024, aiming to provide initial commercial service to mobile network operators and governmental entities starting in 2024. Avellan expressed gratitude for the dedication of the team and support from their network partners, leading to significant milestones achieved in the third quarter, including the first-ever space-based 5G cellular broadband connection to an everyday smartphone.
AST SpaceMobile also faces reduced competition in the smartphone-direct-to-satellite sector after the tech tie-up between Qualcomm and Iridium was terminated. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Mobile Platforms, which were intended to enable ordinary smartphones to utilize satellite messaging and emergency services, saw no interest from smartphone manufacturers. The partnership between Iridium and Qualcomm was announced in January 2023. Iridium’s satellite network was supposed to facilitate satellite services for smartphones powered by Snapdragon Mobile Platforms.