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AST SpaceMobile wins AT&T contract

May 16, 2024

By Chris Forrester

AST SpaceMobile has claimed it could be a rival to Elon Musk’s Starlink. At the moment it has just one test-satellite in orbit but has successfully trialled ‘direct-to-smartphone’ calls using the craft. AT&T has signed a multi-year commercial contract with AST.

May 15th saw the operator release its Q1 numbers, and confirm the AT&T contract although did not supply any details of the agreement. The AT&T deal will run to 2030. AT&T is paying $500,000 as a gesture of good faith and to extend the existing MoU between the parties.

AST CEO Abel Avellan told analysts that his new fleet of satellites would be a full-data service and unlike anything you can get today from a low Earth orbit constellation, which sounded like a dig at Starlink and even OneWeb.

“One day in the not-too-distant future, consumers will feel a greater peace of mind knowing they have connectivity in places like wilderness areas, including our national park land, rural highways, and other hard to reach locations around the country,” stated AST.

Avellan said AST was on target for July or August delivery of five of its ‘Block 1’ satellites to Cape Canaveral for launch as and when SpaceX can handle the tasks. These are already much-delayed, but the key dates to look for will be the availability of the second-generation Block 2 fleet. These are much larger, with 2400 sq ft (223 sq m) of phased array antennas on each craft. AST says these will start launching in December 2024-March 2025. These ‘Block 2’ craft will – says the company – allow a “ten-fold” improvement in processing bandwidth over Block 1.

The first five satellites – more will follow – will allow US nationwide non-continuous service with 5,600+ cells in premium low-band spectrum. He added that activities and discussions with government regulatory bodies, including FCC, are advancing as expected.

AST has been mired in controversy with critics complaining about poor management and some have alleged deliberate misinformation. There are now a number of Class Action lawsuits running which allege misleading statements having been made to shareholders.

As well as AT&T the operator has similar MoUs in place with Vodafone and Google.

AST SpaceMobile ended the first quarter with $212.4 million in cash, maintaining a strong liquidity position to support operations for at least the next 12 months

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