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AST SpaceMobile advances space-based cellular network with ASIC chip development
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AST SpaceMobile advances space-based cellular network with ASIC chip development
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Apr 01, 2024

In a significant stride towards realizing the world's first space-based cellular broadband network, AST SpaceMobile, Inc. (NASDAQ: ASTS) has announced the initiation of the tape-out phase for its highly anticipated Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC), developed in partnership with TSMC, the premier global semiconductor foundry. This initiative is part of the company's BlueBird Block 2 program, aiming to dramatically enhance satellite processing bandwidth by up to tenfold through the introduction of the AST5000 ASIC, a custom, low-power chip designed for unparalleled efficiency.

The transition to the tape-out phase is a pivotal moment, culminating over four years of rigorous research, development, and engineering, representing an investment of 150 man-years and approximately $45 million. Abel Avellan, Chairman and CEO of AST SpaceMobile, highlighted the dedication of the team behind this achievement and its significance in the company's progress toward the upcoming orbital launch of its Block 1 BlueBird satellites. He emphasized the ASIC's role as a crucial element in advancing satellite technology to meet the increasing demand for global connectivity.

AST SpaceMobile's advancements include achieving 3 Bits/Hertz efficiency with its BlueWalker 3 prototype and outlining future capabilities to support 120 Mbps peak data rates and up to 10,000 MHz of processing bandwidth per satellite. Such technological breakthroughs are expected to solidify AST SpaceMobile's position as the pioneer of space-based cellular broadband, accessible directly via smartphones.

Moreover, AST SpaceMobile has fortified its technological base with over 3,100 patents and pending patent claims. The company benefits from comprehensive, vertically integrated manufacturing and testing facilities in Midland, Texas. Recent strategic investments from AT&T, Google, Vodafone, and a contract award from the United States Government underline the industry's confidence in AST SpaceMobile's vision. The company's collaborations extend to over 40 mobile network operators worldwide, reaching more than two billion subscribers, further emphasizing its global connectivity mission.

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