AST SpaceMobile, a five-year-old company, based in Midland, Texas, has received a green light from the US Federal Communications Commission to test a satellite that could provide cellular broadband connectivity for smartphone users in the US and around the globe.
The company says it's building the first and only space-based cellular broadband network designed to be accessible directly by standard mobile phones. Its planned network, called SpaceMobile, aims to deliver 4G/5G connectivity everywhere on the planet – on land, at sea and in flight. Mobile subscribers would be able to automatically roam from land networks to the space-based network, no matter their location.
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To facilitate the network, AST SpaceMobile is launching BlueWalker 3, a test satellite designed to communicate directly with cell phones via 3GPP standard frequencies. The company's newly-received experimental license from the FCC covers BlueWalker 3 space-to-ground testing in the US.
AST SpaceMobile plans to launch BlueWalker 3 this summer.
"Together with other testing around the world, this license will enable us to conduct some of our most important testing here, at home, in the United States," AST SpaceMobile Founder, Chairman and CEO Abel Avellan said in a statement.
The company has a number of major partners in the telecommunications industry, including Rakuten Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and Globe Telecom.