AST SpaceMobile Makes First-Ever Space-Based Voice Call Using Everyday Unmodified Smartphones.
Groundbreaking milestone reached with support from partners including Vodafone, Rakuten, and AT&T, opening opportunities for cellular broadband access globally.
Midland Texas, April 25, 2023 – AST SpaceMobile, Inc. (“AST SpaceMobile”) (NASDAQ: ASTS), the company building the first and only space-based cellular broadband network accessible directly by standard mobile phones, today announced the successful completion of the first-ever two-way voice calls, directly to everyday unmodified smartphones using the BlueWalker 3 (“BW3”) satellite. This is the first time anyone has ever achieved a direct voice connection from space to everyday cellular devices, demonstrating a significant advancement in AST SpaceMobile’s mission to provide connectivity to the nearly 50% of the global population who remain unconnected from cellular broadband. The first voice call was made from the Midland, Texas area to Rakuten in Japan over AT&T spectrum using a Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone.
AST SpaceMobile is building the first and only global cellular broadband network in space to operate directly with standard, unmodified mobile devices based on their extensive IP and patent portfolio
The initial test calls have validated the AST SpaceMobile patented system and architecture and were completed using unmodified smartphones. The calls demonstrated the power of AST SpaceMobile’s BW3 satellite, the largest-ever commercial communications array deployed in low Earth orbit, and are an important step to providing space-based 2G, 3G, 4G LTE, and 5G cellular broadband globally. Engineers from Vodafone, Rakuten, and AT&T participated in the preparation and testing of the first voice calls with BW3
“Achieving what many once considered impossible, we have reached the most significant milestone to date in our quest to deliver global cellular broadband from space. While we take a moment to celebrate this tremendous accomplishment, we remain focused on the path ahead and pivotal next steps that get us closer to our goal of transforming the way the world connects,” said Abel Avellan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AST SpaceMobile. “I am immensely proud of our team and our incredible partners, whose unwavering dedication and tireless efforts have brought us to this pivotal moment.”
“Today, we have taken another major step in mobile communications. 30 years after Vodafone sent the world’s first text message, we supported AST SpaceMobile in successfully making the first ever direct-to-smartphone test call using satellite communications. This is just the start. As a lead investor in AST SpaceMobile, we will continue to break technological boundaries by connecting many more millions of people across the planet when the service becomes commercially available.”Margherita Della Valle, Vodafone Group Chief Executive, said
“It was a unique thrill and honor to have the Rakuten team talk with Abel in a world-first direct-to-satellite experience. Congratulations to AST SpaceMobile and all of its strategic collaborators on this groundbreaking event. As technological advancements like space connectivity become possible with pioneers like AST SpaceMobile, Rakuten will also progress even further along the road to democratizing connectivity for all.”Mickey Mikitani, Rakuten Chairman & CEO, commented
“AT&T’s heritage began with the birth of the telephone 147 years ago and has continued with many other firsts including: trans-continental call, overseas call, call from the moon, and partnering to deliver the only network built with and for America’s first responders. We connect people to greater possibility, and this important milestone with AST SpaceMobile is a big step and we can’t wait to see what’s next in our space-based journey.”Chris Sambar, Head of AT&T Network, said
In addition to test calls, AST SpaceMobile engineers conducted initial compatibility tests on a variety of smartphones and devices. The phones successfully exchanged Subscriber Identification Module (“SIM”) and network information directly to BW3 — crucial for delivering broadband connectivity from space to any phone or device. Additional testing and measurements on the smartphone uplink and downlink signal strength confirm the ability to support cellular broadband speeds and 4G LTE / 5G waveforms.
AST SpaceMobile has over 2,600 patent and patent-pending claims for its technology and built state-of-the-art facilities in Midland, Texas that collectively span 185,000 square feet. AST SpaceMobile has agreements and understandings with mobile network operators globally that have approximately 2 billion existing subscribers, including Vodafone Group, Rakuten Mobile, AT&T, Bell Canada, Orange, Telefonica, TIM, Saudi Telecom Company, Zain KSA, Etisalat, Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison, Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, Millicom, Smartfren, Telecom Argentina, Telstra, Africell, Liberty Latin America and others.