AST SpaceMobile's groundbreaking space-based 5G cellular broadband capabilities and new data rate of 14 Mbps follows closely on the heels of successful 4G testing with AT&T and Vodafone
This historic achievement was reached using the BlueWalker 3 test satellite in collaboration with partners Vodafone, AT&T, and Nokia, and further shows promise for filling coverage gaps with 4G and 5G broadband connectivity from space around the planet
The same patented technologies support AST SpaceMobile’s commercial satellites, the first five of which the company currently plans to launch in Q1 2024
MIDLAND, Texas, September 19, 2023--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AST SpaceMobile, Inc. ("AST SpaceMobile") (NASDAQ: ASTS), the company building the first and only space-based cellular broadband network accessible directly by standard mobile phones, today announced another unprecedented leap in telecommunications by successfully making the first-ever 5G connection for voice and data between an everyday, unmodified smartphone and a satellite in space.
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BlueWalker 3 on the ground at our Midland, Texas facility prior to launch, and in space (Photo: Business Wire)
Company engineers demonstrated space-based 5G connectivity by placing a call from Maui, Hawaii, USA, to a Vodafone engineer in Madrid, Spain, using AT&T spectrum and AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 test satellite — the largest-ever commercial communications array deployed in low Earth orbit. Fifth-generation or 5G mobile networking is the fastest, most efficient, highest-throughput, lowest-latency, and flexible wireless standard ever released by the 3GPP consortium.
The 5G call was placed on September 8, 2023, from an unmodified Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone located near Hana, HI, in a wireless dead zone. 5G connectivity testing was completed with our partners Vodafone, AT&T and Nokia. In a separate test, the company broke its previous space-based cellular broadband data session record by achieving a download rate of approximately 14 Mbps.
These historic accomplishments follow AST SpaceMobile’s April announcement that the company had completed the first-ever space-based voice calls using everyday unmodified smartphones. In June, AST SpaceMobile announced that the satellite reached initial download speeds above 10 Mbps. The company’s comprehensive testing program with its partners has continued since June, including additional voice calls, 4G video calls and now 5G cellular broadband connections. These speeds, beyond supporting basic voice and text, also enable browsing the internet, downloading files, using messaging apps, streaming video, and more on everyday smartphones.
"Once again, we have achieved a significant technological advancement that represents a paradigm shift in access to information. Since the launch of BlueWalker 3, we have achieved full compatibility with phones made by all major manufacturers and support for 2G, 4G LTE, and now 5G," said Abel Avellan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AST SpaceMobile. "Making the first successful 5G cellular broadband connections from space directly to mobile phones is yet another significant advancement in telecommunications AST SpaceMobile has pioneered. We are more confident than ever that space-based cellular broadband can help transform internet connectivity across the globe by filling in gaps and connecting the unconnected."
A video memorializing the 5G connection and other testing milestones using BlueWalker 3 can be viewed here.
Margherita Della Valle, Vodafone Group Chief Executive, said: "Vodafone is striving to close the mobile usage gap for millions of people across Europe and Africa. By making the world’s first space-based 5G call to Europe, we have taken another important step in realizing that ambition. We’re excited to be at the forefront of space technology through our partnership with AST SpaceMobile."
Chris Sambar, Head of AT&T Network, said: "These moments are extraordinary milestones in telecommunications history. These first-of-a-kind innovations would not be possible without ecosystem-wide collaboration. We’re all working together to achieve the shared vision of space-based connectivity for consumers, businesses and first responders all around the globe."
Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said: "We congratulate AST SpaceMobile on their latest incredible achievement in completing a 5G voice call from space. While we are of course proud that our AirScale portfolio is playing a key role in underpinning these networks, we must not lose sight of the bigger picture that space-based cellular broadband can provide crucial connectivity to underserved communities around the world. At Nokia, we believe that everyone should have access to universal broadband services, and we look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with AST SpaceMobile on this game-changing initiative."
AST SpaceMobile has more than 2,600 patent and patent-pending claims for its technology and built state-of-the-art facilities in Midland, Texas, which collectively span 185,000 square feet. AST SpaceMobile also has agreements and understandings with more than 40 mobile network operators globally, which have approximately 2.4 billion existing subscribers total, including Vodafone Group, Rakuten Mobile, AT&T, Bell Canada, Orange, Telefonica, TIM, MTN, Saudi Telecom Company, Zain KSA, Etisalat, Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison, Telkomsel, Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, Millicom, Smartfren, Telecom Argentina, Telstra, Africell, Liberty Latin America and others. Vodafone, Rakuten, American Tower, Samsung NEXT and Bell Canada are also investors in AST SpaceMobile.
This continuing series of historic achievements is part of AST SpaceMobile’s path toward 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 telecommunications. The company is currently building BlueBird satellites at its facility in Midland, Texas.
About AST SpaceMobile
AST SpaceMobile is building the first and only global cellular broadband network in space to operate directly with standard, unmodified mobile devices based on our extensive IP and patent portfolio. Our engineers and space scientists are on a mission to eliminate the connectivity gaps faced by today’s five billion mobile subscribers and finally bring broadband to the billions who remain unconnected. For more information, follow AST SpaceMobile on YouTube, X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn and Facebook. Watch this video for an overview of the SpaceMobile mission.
This communication contains "forward-looking statements" that are not historical facts, and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results of AST SpaceMobile to differ materially from those expected and projected. These forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology, including the words "believes," "estimates," "anticipates," "expects," "intends," "plans," "may," "will," "would," "potential," "projects," "predicts," "continue," or "should," or, in each case, their negative or other variations or comparable terminology.
These forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results to differ materially from the expected results. Most of these factors are outside AST SpaceMobile's control and are difficult to predict. Factors that may cause such differences include, but are not limited to: (i) expectations regarding AST SpaceMobile's strategies and future financial performance, including AST's future business plans or objectives, expected functionality of the SpaceMobile Service, anticipated timing and results of the BW3 test satellite tests, anticipated timing and level of deployment of satellites, anticipated demand and acceptance of mobile satellite services, prospective performance and commercial opportunities and competitors, the timing of obtaining regulatory approvals, ability to finance its research and development activities, commercial partnership acquisition and retention, products and services, pricing, marketing plans, operating expenses, market trends, revenues, liquidity, cash flows and uses of cash, capital expenditures, and AST's ability to invest in growth initiatives; (ii) the negotiation of definitive agreements with mobile network operators relating to the SpaceMobile service that would supersede preliminary agreements and memoranda of understanding; (iii) the ability of AST SpaceMobile to grow and manage growth profitably and retain its key employees and AST SpaceMobile's responses to actions of its competitors and its ability to effectively compete; (iv) changes in applicable laws or regulations; (v) the possibility that AST SpaceMobile may be adversely affected by other economic, business, and/or competitive factors; (vi) the outcome of any legal proceedings that may be instituted against AST SpaceMobile; and (vii) other risks and uncertainties indicated in the Company's filings with the SEC, including those in the Risk Factors section of AST SpaceMobile's Form 10-K filed with the SEC on March 31, 2023.
The ongoing testing of the BW3 satellite may not be completed due to a variety of factors, which could include loss of satellite connectivity, destruction of the satellite, or other communication failures, and even if completed, the BW3 testing may indicate adjustments that are needed or modifications that must be made, any of which could result in additional costs, which could be material, and delays in commercializing our service. If there are delays or issues with additional testing, it may become more costly to raise capital, if we are able to do so at all.
AST SpaceMobile cautions that the foregoing list of factors is not exclusive. AST SpaceMobile cautions readers not to place undue reliance upon any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date made. For information identifying important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements, please refer to the Risk Factors incorporated by reference into AST SpaceMobile's Form 10-K filed with the SEC on March 31, 2023. AST SpaceMobile's securities filings can be accessed on the EDGAR section of the SEC's website at www.sec.gov. Except as expressly required by applicable securities law, AST SpaceMobile disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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Eva Murphy Ryan