AST SpaceMobile, Inc. has achieved the milestone of making the first-ever 5G connection for voice and data between an everyday, unmodified smartphone and a satellite in space. Company engineers demonstrated space-based 5G connectivity by placing a call from Maui, Hawaii, USA, to a Vodafone engineer in Madrid, Spain, using AT&T spectrum and AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 test satellite — the largest-ever commercial communications array deployed in low earth orbit.
The 5G call was placed from an unmodified Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone located near Hana, HI, in a wireless dead zone. 5G connectivity testing was completed with the company’s partners Vodafone, AT&T and Nokia. In a separate test, the company broke its previous space-based cellular broadband data session record by achieving a download rate of approximately 14 Mbps.
These historic accomplishments follow AST SpaceMobile’s April 2023 announcement that the company had completed the first-ever space-based voice calls using everyday unmodified smartphones. In June 2023, AST SpaceMobile announced that the satellite reached initial download speeds above 10 Mbps. The company’s comprehensive testing program with its partners has continued since June, including additional voice calls, 4G video calls and now 5G cellular broadband connections. These speeds, beyond supporting basic voice and text, also enable browsing the internet, downloading files, using messaging apps, streaming video, and more on everyday smartphones.
Commenting on the miletone, Abel Avellan, chairman and chief executive officer, AST SpaceMobile, 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 long term evolution (LTE), and now 5G. 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.”