Advanced Television

Concerns over AST SpaceMobile’s 5G obligations

February 6, 2024

By Chris Forrester

The US Rural Wireless Association (RWA) on February 1st wrote to FCC Jessica Rosenworcel about AST SpaceMobile and the satellite operator’s commitment to provide “supplemental coverage from space” at a minimum of 35 Mb/s download (and just 3 Mb/s upload) for broadband.

AST is also looking to receive cash from the US government’s 5G Fund designed to help deployment of 5G broadband access to the rural US.

The RWA said that AST’s obligations extend to meeting latency delivery of broadband at 100 milliseconds or below “while also avoiding interference with terrestrial mobile licensees’ operations in the lower band spectrum licensed to others” and which they are sceptical about.

RWA also explained how satellite operator participation in the [FCC’s] 5G Fund could impact the sustainability of rural mobile networks should the 5G Fund monies be disbursed to operators providing supplemental coverage from space.

The RWA letter was sent at the same time as a similar letter from the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) which also raised the prospect of satellite operators receiving cash from the 5G Fund to the detriment of its member organisations.

The CCA added: “The need to raise eligibility to at least 35/3 Mbps to be consistent with Administration and prior FCC precedent, to demonstrate global leadership, to reflect more reasonable comparability to 5G in urban areas of the US, and to avoid potentially negative consequences such as leapfrogging areas or stranding prior federal investments.”

The 5G Fund comprises $9 billion to help pay for rural broadband access.

Categories: 5G, Articles, Mobile

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