AT&T deal ushering in satellite calling and texting - no special phones needed

Thanks to a partnership with AST SpaceMobile​, AT&T customers can look forward to communicating from areas where they don't have a cellular connection.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
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On the heels of a discovery that satellite-based texting will soon be available for T-Mobile customers, another carrier is taking advantage of space-based mobile communication.

AT&T has announced a deal with AST SpaceMobile to bring satellite calling and texting to subscribers. Once this feature is available, customers will be able to communicate from areas where they don't have a mobile connection -- and with no special equipment or modifications to their phone. If the company follows the usual process, only texting will be available at first.

Also: Is satellite texting coming to T-Mobile? Some users see the option on their phones

Satellite texting support will be among the features that are a part of Android 15 when it releases this summer.

While the official partnership is new, a press release from AT&T noted that the two companies have been "on this path together" since 2018. Just last year, AST SpaceMobile completed a two-way voice call via satellite, calling from Midland, Texas to Rakuten, Japan over the AT&T spectrum.

Chris Sambar, head of network for AT&T, will take a place on AST SpaceMobile's board of directors, and AT&T will work directly with AST SpaceMobile on developing, testing, and troubleshooting satellites.

AST SpaceMobile will dispatch five low-orbit satellites from Cape Canaveral this summer that will provide coverage to the continental US.

Also: The best satellite phones: Expert tested and reviewed

AT&T did not offer an exact date for service availability but did say that in the "not-too-distant future" customers would enjoy greater peace of mind knowing they have connectivity in national parks, rural highways, and other wilderness areas. 

"There are many situations where dead zones outside will become a thing of the past," AT&T said in its announcement, "thanks to the reach of a satellite solution providing two-way connectivity."

The agreement between AT&T and ATS SpaceMobile extends until 2030.

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