Their approach means that subscribers outside of cellular coverage could access broadband speeds without having to invest in specialized hardware and be able to roam from terrestrial networks to space networks for the first time…
AST Space Mobile, Inc. (“AST SpaceMobile”), the company building the first space-based broadband cellular network accessible directly by standard mobile phones, announced that it has signed a five-year 5G agreement with Nokia. Under this agreement, Nokia and AST SpaceMobile will work to achieve their joint ambition to expand universal coverage and connect underserved communities around the world. The planned launch of AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 test satellite later this year will kick off global testing with mobile network operators on six continents.
AST SpaceMobile’s mission is to eliminate the connectivity gaps faced by more than five billion mobile subscribers worldwide and to bring cellular broadband to approximately half of the world’s population who are still not connected. Their approach means that subscribers outside of cellular coverage could access broadband speeds without having to invest in specialized hardware and be able to switch from terrestrial to space networks for the first time. Through its relationships with mobile network operators, AST SpaceMobile has entered into agreements and understandings with mobile network operators who collectively serve more than 1.8 billion cellular customers.
Nokia’s AirScale Single RAN equipment is intended to enable AST SpaceMobile to provide mobile services to new and existing subscribers in areas currently unserved by terrestrial communications networks. This includes connecting devices globally on land, at sea or in the air. Nokia will supply equipment from its comprehensive, energy-efficient AirScale portfolio, including its AirScale base stations powered by its latest generation of Nokia’s ReefShark System-on-Chip (SoC) chipsets. AST SpaceMobile will benefit from Nokia’s modular baseband plug-in cards that add capacity where it is needed, providing flexibility and efficiency. Nokia will also provide its NetAct solution for network management and transparent day-to-day network operations as well as optimization and technical support services.
“Connectivity must be considered an essential service in the same way as water, electricity or gas. Everyone should be able to access universal broadband services that will ensure no one is left behind,” said Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at nokia. “Nokia has a long history of providing connectivity solutions that have had a major and positive impact on society. We have worked closely with AST SpaceMobile on this important initiative for two years which aims to provide crucial space connectivity to underserved communities around the world. We are of course proud that our technology plays an important role in supporting networks. »
AST SpaceMobile plans to launch its BlueWalker 3 satellite for testing in early to mid-September from Cape Canaveral, Florida. BlueWalker 3 is a low Earth orbit satellite and has an aperture of approximately 64 square meters (693 square feet), which is designed to communicate directly with cellular devices via standard 3GPP frequencies. Ultimately, AST SpaceMobile aims to deploy around 100 satellites to achieve substantial global mobile coverage.
“With the integration of Nokia’s AirScale system, AST SpaceMobile and Nokia are taking an important step towards closing connectivity gaps around the world,” said Scott Wisniewski, Chief Strategy Officer at AST SpaceMobile. “Nokia supports us with dozens of engineers and development professionals, including leading architectural research experts at Bell Labs, Nokia’s world-renowned industrial research arm. In the coming months, we will plan to launch our BlueWalker 3 test satellite into low Earth orbit, which has a 64 square meter phased array antenna designed for direct-to-cell connectivity.With this satellite, we plan to perform tests around the world with major mobile network operators, leveraging Nokia’s technology solutions in the field.
Nokia is committed to providing equitable opportunities for all and access to education, healthcare, employment and digital community services. Nokia supports the 2025 targets set by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development which aims to “connect the other half” over the next five years. They are involved in several ongoing projects around the world, notably in El Salvador and Kenya.