AST SpaceMobile Notches 5G Direct-to-Cell Success

Direct-to-cell technology has taken another step forward. AST SpaceMobile ($ASTS) announced yesterday that it successfully demonstrated 5G connectivity with an unmodified smartphone from space for the first time.

Call incoming

Direct-to-cell capabilities have gained traction in recent years, with several companies—including ASTS, Lynk Global, and SpaceX—working on incorporating the technology into their constellations.

  • Essentially, capable satellites mimic cell towers, enabling cell service across the globe, including in dead zones where terrestrial towers don’t reach.
  • It’s also useful as an emergency backup when disaster strikes. Iridium, for example, has partnered with Qualcomm to develop compatible smartphones to tap into satellite networks specifically in case of an emergency.

The technology is new, but these providers are betting on rapid customer adoption and growth. On a panel at World Satellite Business Week, Lynk CEO Charles Miller estimated that the market will reach $1B within the next five years. (Lynk demonstrated direct-to-cell capabilities with unmodified smartphones up to 4G in Feb. 2022.)

The demo

ASTS reported that it used its BlueWalker 3 LEO test satellite and AT&T’s spectrum to connect with an unmodified smartphone in Hawaii on Sept. 8 and facilitate a call with a Vodafone engineer in Madrid.

5G connectivity between unmodified smartphones has never before been demonstrated from space, the company said. 

Market check: $ASTS stock was up 8.66% at EOD Tuesday.

Related Stories

Q3 Earnings Roundup: AST SpaceMobile, Terran Orbital, Intuitive Machines, Momentus

We’re deep into earnings season, and the space SPACs have been reporting all week. Here’s our roundup of the highlights.


Delta and Hughes Partner on IFC

Delta is tapping into satellite internet. 


Amazon Argues to Reduce LEO Regulations

Amazon is teaming up with a handful of leading think tanks to launch the Alliance for Satellite Broadband, a coalition aiming to broaden global satellite internet access. The group was just announced yesterday, but it already has its first task: pushing regulators to update decades-old limits on signal interference between different orbits.  EPFD 101: Equivalent […]


Aalyria Plans to Deploy Laser Terminals at Sea

Aalyria is building a mesh network of laser links to quickly transmit data across land, air, sea, and space. The sea-based piece of that plan is about to get a boost. Yesterday, the DC-based laser comms networking company announced that it signed an MoU with HICO Investment Group, which focuses investment in shipping and logistics […]