Nokia radio technology will enable AST SpaceMobiles direct-to-cell phone connectivity from space.
Nokia has signed a five-year 5G deal with AST SpaceMobile. Nokia plans to use its AirScale Single RAN equipment to expand connectivity with AST SpaceMobile.
Under the deal, Nokia and AST SpaceMobile will work to achieve their joint ambition to expand universal coverage and connect underserved communities around the world. The launch of AST SpaceMobiles BlueWalker 3 test satellite later this year will kick off global testing with mobile network operators on six continents.
AST SpaceMobile’s mission is to eliminate the connectivity gaps faced by over five billion mobile subscribers worldwide and to bring cellular broadband to approximately half of the world’s population who remain unconnected. Through its mobile network operator relationships, AST SpaceMobile has entered into agreements and understandings with mobile network operators which collectively service over 1.8bn cellular customers.
Nokias AirScale Single RAN equipment aims to enable AST SpaceMobile in providing mobile services to new and existing subscribers in regions currently not served by terrestrial communication networks. This includes connecting devices globally on land, at sea, or in flight. Nokia will provide equipment from its comprehensive, energy-efficient AirScale portfolio including its AirScale base stations powered by its latest generation of Nokias ReefShark System-on-Chip (SoC) chipsets. AST SpaceMobile will benefit from Nokias modular baseband plug-in cards which add capacity where it is needed offering flexibility and efficiency. Nokia will also provide its NetAct solution for network management and seamless daily network operations as well as optimization and technical support services.
Commenting on the partnership, Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said: “Connectivity should be considered an essential service like water, electricity, or gas. Everyone should be able to have access to universal broadband services that will ensure that no one is left behind. Nokia has a long history of delivering connectivity solutions that have had a major and positive impact on society. We have worked closely with AST SpaceMobile on this important initiative for two years which seeks to provide crucial connectivity from space to underserved communities around the world. We are of course proud our technology is playing an important role in underpinning the networks.”
AST SpaceMobile plans to launch its BlueWalker 3 satellite for testing in early to mid-September from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Scott Wisniewski, Chief Strategy Officer at AST SpaceMobile, added: “With the integration of Nokias AirScale system, AST SpaceMobile and Nokia are taking an important step toward closing connectivity gaps all over the world. Nokia is supporting us with dozens of engineers and development professionals, including leading architecture research experts at Bell Labs, the world-renowned industrial research arm of Nokia. In the coming months, we are scheduled to launch our BlueWalker 3 test satellite into low Earth orbit, which has a 64-square meter phased array antenna designed for direct-to-cell connectivity. With this satellite, we plan to conduct testing all over the world with leading mobile network operators, leveraging Nokia’s technology solutions on the ground.”