AST SpaceMobile, a five-year-old company based in Midland, Texas, has received a green light of the United States Federal Communications Commission to test a satellite that could provide broadband cellular connectivity to smartphone users in the United States and around the world.
The company claims it is building the first and only space-based broadband cellular network designed to be accessed directly by standard mobile phones. Its planned network, called SpaceMobile, aims to provide 4G/5G connectivity anywhere on the planet – on land, at sea and in the air. Mobile subscribers would be able to automatically switch from terrestrial to space networks, regardless of their location.
To facilitate the network, AST SpaceMobile is launching BlueWalker 3, a test satellite designed to communicate directly with cell phones via standard 3GPP frequencies. The experimental license recently received from the FCC covers space-to-ground testing of BlueWalker 3 in the United States.
AST SpaceMobile plans to launch BlueWalker 3 this summer.
“Along with other tests around the world, this license will allow us to perform some of our most important tests right here at home in the United States,” said AST SpaceMobile Founder, President and CEO. , Abel Avellan, in a press release.
The company has a number of major partners in the telecommunications industry, including Rakuten Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and Globe Telecom.