AST SpaceMobile has deployed the largest communications array in low earth orbit for its test 5G satellite, BlueWalker 3 (BW3).
BW3 is the largest-ever commercial communications array deployed in low Earth orbit and is designed to communicate directly with cellular devices such as smartphones on the ground using 3GPP standard frequencies at 5G speeds.
The array measures 693 square feet and it is this large size is key to picking up signals fom smartphones on the groud for space-based cellular broadband network. The satellite is expected to have a field of view of over 300,000 square miles on the surface of the Earth.
AST SpaceMobile has a portfolio of more than 2,400 patent and patent-pending claims supporting its space-based cellular broadband technology. UK design groups at Ensilica and Renesas Electronics are working on chips for AST’s satellites.
“Every person should have the right to access cellular broadband, regardless of where they live or work. Our goal is to close the connectivity gaps that negatively impact billions of lives around the world,” said Abel Avellan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AST SpaceMobile. “The successful unfolding of BlueWalker 3 is a major step forward for our patented space-based cellular broadband technology and paves the way for the ongoing production of our BlueBird satellites.”
AST SpaceMobile has agreements and understandings with mobile network operators globally that have over 1.8 billion existing subscribers, including a mutual exclusivity with Vodafone in 24 countries.
“We want to close coverage gaps in our markets, particularly in territories where terrain makes it extremely challenging to reach with a traditional ground-based network. Our partnership with AST SpaceMobile – connecting satellite directly to conventional mobile devices – will help in our efforts to close the digital divide,” said Luke Ibbetson, Head of Group R&D, Vodafone and an AST SpaceMobile director.
Tareq Amin, CEO of Rakuten Mobile and Rakuten Symphony and an AST SpaceMobile director, added “Our mission is to democratize access to mobile connectivity: That is why we are so excited about the potential of AST SpaceMobile to support disaster-readiness and meet our goal of 100% geographical coverage to our customers in Japan. I look forward not only to testing BW3 on our world-leading cloud-native network in Japan, but also working with AST SpaceMobile on integrating our virtualized radio network technology to help bring connectivity to the world.”
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