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AST SpaceMobile nears funding milestone for cellular broadband in space
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AST SpaceMobile nears funding milestone for cellular broadband in space
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jan 03, 2024

AST SpaceMobile, Inc. (NASDAQ: ASTS) has recently shared an interim update regarding its ongoing fundraising efforts. Known for their ambitious initiative to establish the first and only space-based cellular broadband network directly accessible by conventional smartphones, AST SpaceMobile is currently in a strategic investment process involving multiple parties.

As the company moves forward, it seeks to finalize and secure funding for the previously disclosed strategic investment by January 2024. This crucial step is dependent on the completion of final documentation and obtaining necessary approvals. The involvement of multiple parties in this process signifies the broad interest and potential impact of AST SpaceMobile's innovative approach in the realm of global telecommunications.

In addition to their fundraising progress, AST SpaceMobile has achieved a significant milestone by securing initial ground infrastructure orders from two customers. This development is a testament to the growing confidence in AST SpaceMobile's planned commercial service and its potential to revolutionize how we connect globally. The company's strategy to integrate space technology with existing cellular networks promises to extend the reach of mobile connectivity, potentially bridging the gap in areas currently underserved by traditional cellular networks.

However, AST SpaceMobile cautions that there is no certainty regarding the finalization of these transactions. The company emphasizes that the successful conclusion of these deals is subject to the agreements being on acceptable terms, aligning with the projected timeline, or even occurring at all. This cautious approach underlines the complexity and challenges inherent in pioneering new technology and infrastructural developments at the intersection of space and telecommunications.

The initiative undertaken by AST SpaceMobile stands at the forefront of a novel approach to global connectivity. By aiming to create a direct link between everyday smartphones and a space-based cellular network, the company is poised to potentially redefine the boundaries of mobile communication. This endeavor, if successful, could lead to significant advancements in ensuring more consistent and widespread access to mobile networks, especially in remote or underserved regions.

Backgrounder: How is AST SpaceMobile different to Starlink

AST SpaceMobile's approach to providing global connectivity is distinctly different from Starlink, a project developed by SpaceX. Here's a comparison based on the key aspects of their technologies and services:

Technology and Infrastructure:
AST SpaceMobile: They are developing a space-based cellular broadband network that directly connects to standard smartphones without the need for any additional hardware. This means their technology is designed to be compatible with existing mobile phones, leveraging low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to provide connectivity. Starlink: Starlink uses a constellation of LEO satellites to provide high-speed internet, but it requires a specialized satellite dish (known as the 'Starlink Dish') and a Wi-Fi router to connect users to the internet. This means Starlink is not directly connecting to smartphones or standard mobile devices but provides an internet service similar to traditional ISPs.

Target Audience and Usage:
AST SpaceMobile: Their primary focus is on extending cellular coverage directly to smartphones, especially targeting areas where traditional cellular connectivity is weak or non-existent. This includes remote areas, maritime environments, and regions with poor infrastructure. Starlink: Starlink is primarily an internet service provider, targeting users in areas with poor or no broadband services. This includes rural and remote communities, as well as users who need portable or off-grid internet solutions.

Service Type:
AST SpaceMobile: They are aiming to provide cellular broadband services, which implies integration with existing mobile network operators and allowing seamless transitions between terrestrial cellular networks and their space-based network. Starlink: Provides broadband internet services, focusing more on data transmission than on traditional cellular services like voice calls or standard SMS.

Commercial Model and Partnerships:
AST SpaceMobile: They are likely to partner with existing mobile network operators to extend their coverage using their space-based network. Starlink: Operates more independently as an internet service provider and has also engaged in partnerships for specific applications, like providing internet services to remote locations or for in-flight Wi-Fi.

In summary, while both AST SpaceMobile and Starlink are leveraging satellite technology to provide connectivity, AST SpaceMobile focuses on direct-to-smartphone cellular connectivity, whereas Starlink provides broadband internet requiring specific equipment. Their approaches, target audiences, and service types also differ, reflecting the distinct goals and markets they aim to serve.

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