For the first time, a 5G voice and data connection was made from space to an unmodified phone
We are moving closer to a world where carriers can fill gaps in their 5G coverage by using signals from space (echo effect: space...space...space). This morning, AT&T and AST SpaceMobile announced the successful completion of a call placed from Maui, Hawaii, to a Vodafone engineer in Madrid, Spain. The call was made on September 8th using AT&T spectrum and AST SpaceMobile's BlueWalker 3 test satellite using an unmodified Galaxy S22 handset in an area considered a "wireless dead zone."
AST SpaceMobile is building the only space-based cell network that will be accessible by standard mobile phones, and this successful test is a big step forward. The Chairman and CEO of the company, Abel Avellan, said, "Once again, we have achieved a significant technological advancement that represents a paradigm shift in access to information. 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."
The executive added, "Making the first successful 5G cellular broadband connections from space directly to mobile phones is yet another significant advancement in telecommunications AST SpaceMobile has pioneered. We 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."
Other telecom companies involved in this technology are Nokia and Vodafone. During the call, the team broke its previous record for a space-based cellular broadband data session by delivering a download data speed of 14Mbps. Being able to raise the download data speeds in the tests means that when this service is ready for prime time, besides voice and text, users should be able to browse the web, download files, use messaging apps, and view streaming video over the same smartphones they use right now.
Chris Sambar, Head of AT&T Network, said, "These moments are extraordinary milestones in telecommunications history. These first-of-a-kind innovations would not be possible without ecosystem-wide collaboration. We’re all working together to achieve the shared vision of space-based connectivity for consumers, businesses, and first responders all around the globe."