Advanced Television

AST SpaceMobile could challenge Starlink

February 16, 2024

AST SpaceMobile wants to cover the planet with satellite signals that supply ‘direct-to-cellphone’ connectivity. It already has one satellite in orbit (BlueWalker 3) but says its next craft will be “100 times more powerful” in terms of processing bandwidth. AST recently struck agreements with AT&T, Vodafone and Google and says it has terrestrial links with more than 40 telcos.

If it achieves that ambition, then AST might well be a very real challenger to Elon Musk’s Starlink as well as the Apple/Globalstar existing direct-to-phone service. AST says it is the first and only space-based cellular broadband network accessible directly by everyday smartphones.

On February 8th AST announced it had won a major contract from the US government. While the contract’s value was not disclosed, AST says: “We are thrilled to announce this initiative with the United States Government,” said Chris Ivory, CCO/Head of Government Business of AST SpaceMobile. “We believe our patented technology, leveraging our large phased array antenna technology in space, creates opportunities for new mission-critical capabilities in the government sector. We are creating new robust and resilient communications solutions while also facilitating new use cases.”

“This initial firm-fixed-priced contract, for an undisclosed amount, will be supported by the company’s BlueWalker 3 satellite in orbit today, as well as its next five commercial satellites. Revenue-generating contracts like this mark a significant milestone in AST SpaceMobile’s growth trajectory and highlight the versatile, dual-use capabilities of its technology,” says AST.

AST SpaceMobile is building its next five satellites, but ten of the bigger and better ‘BlueBird’ versions are the ones which will have a ten-fold improvement in throughput according to the firm’s official guidance for shareholders.

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