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AST SpaceMobile confirms 4G capabilities to everyday smartphones directly from space
In another first-ever milestone, the BlueWalker 3 low Earth orbit satellite communicated with everyday smartphones reaching initial download speeds above 10 Mbps during Hawaii testing.
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AST SpaceMobile confirms 4G capabilities to everyday smartphones directly from space
by Staff Writers
Midland TX (SPX) Jun 22, 2023

AST SpaceMobile (NASDAQ: ASTS), the company building the first and only space-based cellular broadband network accessible directly by standard mobile phones, announced it has achieved repeated successful download speeds above 10 Mbps during testing of BlueWalker 3. Space-based cellular communications at 4G speeds using unmodified smartphones is another world first telecommunications achievement by AST SpaceMobile.

Engineers conducted download speed tests in Hawaii during June using multiple everyday, off-the-shelf smartphones. The 4G LTE download speed testing, which used AT&T spectrum and Nokia RAN technology, reached initial speeds up to 10.3 Mbps, with further testing of voice calls to AT&T employees. Evaluation of BlueWalker 3's capabilities continues, with enablement of 5G cellular broadband as the next major test activity.

"AST SpaceMobile's space-based cellular capabilities are designed to be a critical extension for cellular communications. In addition to supporting basic voice and text that we expect from phones, it would also enable users to browse the internet, download files, use messaging apps or stream video," said Abel Avellan, Chairman and CEO of AST SpaceMobile.

"Achieving this milestone from an unmodified, standard cell phone on the ground connecting through our low Earth orbit satellite is another groundbreaking moment in telecommunications history and an important step toward AST SpaceMobile's goal of bringing broadband services to parts of the world where cellular coverage is either unreliable or simply does not exist today."

Chris Sambar, Head of AT&T Network, said: "Successfully reaching double-digit download speeds during satellite-to-smartphone testing takes us one step closer to ensuring people across the United States will be able to stay connected no matter their location. This milestone wouldn't be possible without the overall focus and determination of the teams working daily to achieve our shared space-based vision of connectivity."

Alberto Ripepi, Chief Network Officer at Vodafone, said: "Each mobile milestone in Vodafone's history has moved us closer to connectivity for all. Achieving these mobile speeds, via satellite direct to standard 4G smartphones, shrinks the digital divide even further. Together with Vodacom and AST SpaceMobile, we look forward to bringing this capability to our customers in the hardest to reach areas of Africa and Europe."

Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said: "This is an important milestone that will see real mobile broadband connectivity delivered directly to smartphones from space via AST SpaceMobile's platform. As the RAN provider, we are proud to play a role in this important initiative that will provide crucial connectivity around the world."

Today's news follows other recent world's first announcements from AST SpaceMobile as the company readies its technology for commercialization. On April 25, AST SpaceMobile announced it had completed the first-ever space-based voice calls using everyday unmodified smartphones.

Paving the way for these achievements was the successful deployment of BlueWalker 3, which is the largest-ever commercial communications array deployed in low-Earth orbit and designed to communicate directly with cellular devices via 3GPP standard frequencies at 5G speeds. In its now unfolded position, the satellite spans 693 square feet in size, a design feature critical to support a space-based cellular broadband network.

AST SpaceMobile technology is designed to expand coverage for wireless companies, filling in gaps and dead zones in their networks. This could help bring cellular broadband services to hundreds of millions of people across the globe who still lack access to reliable cellular service. The company has agreements and understandings with more than 35 mobile network operators globally that have approximately 2 billion existing subscribers.

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