Cellular satellite test successfully beams 4G data from space to a regular phone

Earlier this year, AST SpaceMobile, with the help of AT&T, managed to connect an off-the-shelf Samsung Galaxy S22 to a satellite in low-Earth orbit to complete a two-way voice call. The announcement marked a major milestone for satellite-based cellular communication. Now the company says it’s one step closer to bringing the technology to consumers.

On Wednesday, AST shared it recently completed multiple tests in Hawaii where its engineers saw download speeds of 10Mbps from the company’s BlueWalker 3 satellite to unmodified phones on the ground. “Successfully reaching double-digit download speeds during satellite-to-smartphone testing takes us one step closer to ensuring people across the United States will be able to stay connected no matter their location,” said Chris Sambar, AT&T network head.

As a next step, AST hopes to connect a phone to BW3 over a 5G signal. A SpaceX Falcon 9 carried the prototype satellite to low-Earth orbit in September. At 693 square feet in size, BW3 features the largest antenna of any commercial satellite to date and is easily one of the brightest objects in the night sky, making it difficult for astronomers to carry out their research.

AT&T is one of a few US carriers looking to use satellites to service underserved rural communities. In 2021, Verizon partnered with Amazon to use the company’s Project Kuiper satellite network for wireless access. More recently, T-Mobile said it would work with SpaceX to test Starlink-capable devices. Like AT&T, the carrier has said existing phones should work with its satellite offering.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/cellular-satellite-test-successfully-beams-4g-data-from-space-to-a-regular-phone-200318927.html?src=rss



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