AT&T cuts a deal to launch satellite-to-smartphone service soon

AST SpaceMobile has ramped up demonstrations of voice calls, texts, and video calls via satellite over the last year, using 4G LTE and 5G connections with download bandwidth reaching 14Mbps. Now the company says that a previous memorandum of understanding with AT&T to work on a space-based broadband network for phones has become a “definitive commercial agreement,” just in time for AST’s first five commercial satellites to launch this summer.

The FCC has gotten things rolling on a framework (PDF) for companies interested in building these types of services, with the idea of what Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel called a single network future. “We won’t need to think about what network, where, and what services are available. Connections will just work everywhere, all the time,” said Rosenworcel last year.

According to a statement, the five satellites AST SpaceMobile will launch from Cape Canaveral “will help enable commercial service that was previously demonstrated,” but there’s no mention of changes to deal with the problems of light pollution.

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