Telecommunications firm AST SpaceMobile has achieved a significant milestone by successfully establishing the first-ever 5G connection for voice and data between a conventional smartphone and a satellite in space. The connection was made using a Samsung (KS:005930) Galaxy S22 smartphone and AT&T (NYSE:T) spectrum, in conjunction with AST SpaceMobile's BlueWalker 3 (BW3) test satellite.
The 5G call was placed on September 8, 2023, from a location near Hana, HI, classified as a "wireless dead zone". The call was received by a Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) engineer in Madrid. The successful 5G connectivity test was confirmed by the company's partners Vodafone, AT&T, and Nokia (NYSE:NOK).
AST SpaceMobile is currently the only company engaged in building a space-based cellular broadband network directly accessible through smartphones. This service aims to connect millions across the globe to mobile networks, opening up opportunities presented by the digital world.
In addition to the successful 5G call, AST SpaceMobile has also established space-based cellular broadband data sessions with a download rate of 14Mbps using its BW3 satellite. Although not particularly speedy, it is still considered a significant achievement, surpassing the company's previous record of 10Mbps set in June this year.
Earlier this year in April, AST SpaceMobile had successfully completed the first-ever two-way voice calls using the same BW3 satellite and an unmodified Samsung Galaxy S22. The call was made from Texas to Japan with the help of AT&T's spectrum.
"Once again, we have achieved a significant technological advancement that represents a paradigm shift in access to information," said Abel Avellan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AST SpaceMobile. "Since the launch of BlueWalker 3, we have achieved full compatibility with phones made by all major manufacturers and support for 2G, 4G LTE, and now 5G." He added that they are more confident than ever that space-based cellular broadband can help transform internet connectivity across the globe by filling in gaps and connecting the unconnected.
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