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AST Completes Voice Call via Satellite Using Regular Cell Phone

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Apr 25, 2023, 8:28 AM   by Rich Brome

AST SpaceMobile has successfully completed a test of the first full two-way voice call using a standard, off-the-shelf cell phone connecting directly to a satellite in orbit (instead of to a land-based network.) Other recently-announced space connectivity solutions have focused only on messaging, not voice calls, and/or require new phones with added satellite technology. This test used an unmodified Samsung Galaxy S22 connecting directly to AST's BlueWalker 3 test satellite in orbit. It took place in Texas using AT&T radio frequencies; AT&T plans to use AST's system to provide coverage in remote areas. AST has completed additional tests that "confirm the ability to support cellular broadband speeds", as well as multiple cellular technologies from 2G to 5G. Tests also confirm compatibility with a variety of different phones and other cellular devices.


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Apr 25, 2023, 10:41 PM

This Has Been a Long Time Coming

Many people think that cell phones communicate via satellite, but mostly they don't. Other than GPS, which still relies on cell towers for triangulation and map downloads, most cellular communications have been via land-based towers, which in turn are connected via underground cables. The obvious limitations within the current system are the terrain and gaps between towers. Satellites provide coverage over oceans and atop mountains.

We've all forgotten the main reason that we wanted mobile devices: to be able to reach someone for emergency assistance while traveling. As cellular technology has expanded, some of the coverage once enjoyed in the analog days has gone. This may be just the thing to bridge those gaps and provide coverage wher...
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