AT&T enables historic ‘space-based voice call’ with standard smartphone technology
AST SpaceMobile, a company that specializes in satellite communications, has announced that it has completed the first-ever two-way audio call using satellites and a standard smartphone, with the help of AT&T. The call was made using an unmodified Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone, and it was placed using AT&T’s networks in Midland, Texas, to mobile carrier Ratuken in Japan via AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 satellite.
This achievement could be a significant step toward increasing cellular access, not only in the US, where large areas of the country struggle with service, but also in developing countries. Typically, a mobile phone call requires nearby cell towers to provide service, and many areas across the United States, such as rural communities and national parks, are “dead zones.” The same technology could be a great solution to the same issues in developing countries. Instead, satellites could act as a sort of space-based network of cell towers, with AST SpaceMobile claiming that it is “building the first and only space-based cellular broadband network.”