AST SpaceMobile Achieves Direct 4G LTE Connection from Space to Ordinary Smartphone
Texas-based American company, AST SpaceMobile, has successfully conducted an experiment that involved transmitting 4G LTE signal directly from a low-orbit satellite to standard smartphones without any hardware modifications. In their next experiment, the company plans to use their satellite, BlueWalker 3 (BW3), to transmit a direct 5G signal to ordinary mobile devices.
The test for directly transmitting a 4G LTE signal from an orbital satellite, effectively serving as a space-based base station, was conducted in the frequency range of the American operator AT&T in Hawaii. The test also utilized Nokia RAN communication technology. The signal, transmitted from the low earth orbiting AST satellite, reached speeds of up to 10.3 Mbps. This speed is sufficient for streaming video, regular internet usage, and standard cellular network usage. In April this year, AST also conducted a test in which a call was made between Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone users in Texas and an iPhone in Japan using a direct satellite connection.
AST SpaceMobile has been working for several years to implement direct satellite cellular communication. However, they are not the only ones who want to send data through space. For instance, the American company Lynk Global managed to send a text message directly via their satellite Shannon with a regular mobile phone back in 2020. In 2021, standard mobile phones, without any hardware modifications, were able to connect and establish bilateral data exchange with the satellite as if it were a regular ground-based cellular base station. According to Lynk, hundreds of people in the US, the UK, and the Bahamas participated in the testing. The connection was established during the satellite’s flyby over the territories of these countries. Amazon, in its Project Kuiper, plans to launch 83 orbital satellites from 2024 onwards, which will have similar direct cellular communication capabilities.
In AST’s press release, it is mentioned that BlueWalker 3 (BW3) is a huge commercial communication array covering an area of 64.38 m2. The company states that it is the largest satellite deployed in low earth orbit. The apparatus operates using the same 3GPP standard as terrestrial cellular networks.
According to Abel Avellan, the CEO of AST, their project will provide residents in remote regions the opportunity to send text messages, make calls, use the internet to download files, and even stream video using a signal transmitted from space.
- I'm Vasyl Kolomiiets, a seasoned tech journalist regularly contributing to global publications. Having a profound background in information technologies, I seamlessly blended my technical expertise with my passion for writing, venturing into technology journalism. I've covered a wide range of topics including cutting-edge developments and their impacts on society, contributing to leading tech platforms.
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