AST SpaceMobile, Inc. announced the successful completion of the first-ever two-way voice calls directly to everyday, unmodified smartphones using the BlueWalker 3 (BW3) satellite. This is the first time anyone has ever achieved a direct voice connection from space to everyday cellular devices, demonstrating a significant advancement in AST SpaceMobile’s mission to provide connectivity to the nearly 50% of the global population who remain unconnected to cellular broadband.
The first voice call was made from the Midland, Texas area to Rakuten in Japan over the AT&T spectrum using a Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone.
The initial test calls validated the AST SpaceMobile patented system and architecture and were completed using unmodified smartphones. The calls demonstrated the power of AST SpaceMobile’s BW3 satellite, which is the largest-ever commercial communications array deployed in low Earth orbit and an important step to providing space-based 2G, 3G, 4G LTE and 5G cellular broadband globally. Engineers from Vodafone, Rakuten and AT&T participated in the preparation and testing of the first voice calls with BW3.
“Achieving what many once considered impossible, we have reached the most significant milestone to date in our quest to deliver global cellular broadband from space. While we take a moment to celebrate this tremendous accomplishment, we remain focused on the path ahead and pivotal next steps that get us closer to our goal of transforming the way the world connects,” said Abel Avellan, chairman and chief executive officer of AST SpaceMobile.
Margherita Della Valle, Vodafone Group chief executive, said: “Today, we have taken another major step in mobile communications. 30 years after Vodafone sent the world’s first text message, we supported AST SpaceMobile in successfully making the first ever direct-to-smartphone test call using satellite communications. This is just the start.”
Chris Sambar, head of AT&T Network, said: “AT&T’s heritage began with the birth of the telephone 147 years ago and has continued with many other firsts, including trans-continental call, overseas call, call from the moon, and partnering to deliver the only network built with and for America’s first responders. We connect people to greater possibility, and this important milestone with AST SpaceMobile is a big step, and we can’t wait to see what’s next in our space-based journey.”