PLDT Inc. and its wireless unit Smart Communications Inc. plan to test the US AST SpaceMobile satellite to provide connectivity across the country, including in remote areas.
Smart and AST SpaceMobile outlined their plans with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission to conduct testing of AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 satellite, which is designed to communicate directly with Unmodified mobile phones from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.
Smart will be the first to test this technology in the Philippines.
Emmanuel Rey Caintic, Acting Secretary of DICT, said that given the archipelagic nature of the country, rolling out typical terrestrial broadband infrastructure across the Philippines has been a challenge, especially in geographically isolated areas and disadvantaged.
“Fortunately, new satellite technologies are able to provide much-needed cellular connectivity with more flexibility in deployment. LEO satellites are a great addition to our solution set as they deliver low latency, high speed internet to our GIDAs, and AST SpaceMobile’s technology, which is designed to connect directly to ordinary smartphones, could change the gives,” Caintic said.
At the forefront of innovation, PLDT and Smart said they are always ready to work hand in hand with the government to support its drive to connect more Filipinos across the country and help revitalize the economy. post-pandemic digital, said Roy Ibay, Smart head of regulation.
In July 2021, Smart signed a memorandum of understanding with AST SpaceMobile, a company building “the first space-based broadband cellular network accessible directly by standard mobile phones”.
Earlier this year, PLDT and Canada’s global satellite operator Telesat also successfully conducted the Philippines’ first in-orbit test of broadband broadband connectivity with Telesat’s LEO Phase 1 satellite.
This marks another milestone for PLDT as the first local service provider in the country to perform live in-orbit testing on the LEO satellite using an end-user terminal installed at PLDT’s facility in Greenhills.
These relationships highlight opportunities for the country, through PLDT and Smart, to use innovations in the satellite industry to extend mobile and internet services to harder-to-reach communities in an archipelago like the Philippines.
PLDT and Smart said their pioneering foray into satellite communications was part of a larger initiative to provide world-class customer services across the country, complementing the nationwide rollout of their fiber optic and wireless networks. wire based on 4G and 5G technologies.