Tue. Sep 26th, 2023
AST SpaceMobile Makes First Space-based 5G Voice Call

AST SpaceMobile, with backing from Vodafone and other mobile operators, has achieved a significant milestone by making the first space-based 5G internet voice call using a regular handset. This follows their earlier accomplishments in two-way 4G calling.

The BlueWalker 3 satellite, weighing 1.5 tons and orbiting at an altitude of over 500km, is equipped with a large phased array antenna. This satellite is specifically designed to transmit and receive 4G and 5G mobile signals between the space-based platform and mobile handsets on the ground. It has a Field of View (FoV) of over 300,000 square miles.

In a recent test, AST SpaceMobile used this prototype satellite to successfully conduct a 5G voice call between a location in Hawaii and a Vodafone engineer in Spain. This test utilized the same setup as their previous 4G voice call achievement.

Furthermore, AST SpaceMobile broke its previous record for space-based cellular mobile broadband data session by achieving a download rate of nearly 14Mbps. This is an essential proof of concept for their new technology, which has the potential to connect millions of people in remote regions to the internet for the first time using existing mobile phones.

AST SpaceMobile aims to launch five commercial BlueBird satellites by the first quarter of 2024. The eventual goal is to have a total of 100 satellites, with future models being larger and more capable. However, the success of this service for regular consumers would depend on factors such as the deployment of sufficient ground stations and securing regulatory approval for radio spectrum across multiple countries.

Other space companies like Starlink and OneWeb are also working on delivering affordable 4G and 5G mobile services through ultrafast broadband satellites in Low Earth Orbit. AST SpaceMobile’s approach is specifically tailored for their space-based network, and time will determine which company achieves the most success in this space.