AST SpaceMobile said that it successfully tested satellite-to-cellphone service using LTE to support 10 Mbps connections.
Supplemental coverage from space (SCS) service will use low earth orbit (LEO) satellites to support connectivity. The AST SpaceMobile test was conducted last month in Hawaii with AT&T spectrum and Nokia radio access network (RAN) technology.
The testing used an AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 satellite, which according to AST SpaceMobile uses the largest commercial communications array ever deployed in low earth orbit. The satellite was used in an unfolded position spanning 693 square feet, AST SpaceMobile 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,” AT&T Network president Chris Sambar, said in a press release about the satellite-to-cellphone achievement.
“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.”
In late April, AT&T said that it had successfully demonstrated voice calls with AST SpaceMobile. The demonstration used Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphones. It was made from the Midland TX area to Rakuten in Japan, also a service provider
AST SpaceMobile says that it has agreements and “understandings” with more than 35 mobile networks that collectively have about 2 billion subscribers.
The relationship between AST SpaceMobile – which is part-owned by American Tower – and AT&T may be deepening.
Last month, AT&T alerted the FCC that it intends to lease spectrum in the 700 MHz and 850 MHz blocks to AST. The two companies also asked the FCC to waive some requirements normally associate with satellite phone service. They argued that those requirements shouldn’t pertain to the service that they are planning.
A battle appears to be brewing between AT&T/AST SpaceMobile and SpaceX. In May, AT&T expressed concern in a filing with the FCC that the spectrum used by a similar service planned by SpaceX and T-Mobile could interfere with spectrum that AT&T and AST SpaceMobile plan to use.
Updated a reference to 10 Gbps to say 10 Mbps