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Google and AT&T invest in Starlink rival for satellite-to-smartphone service

2024-01-23 19:25 by
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Texas-headquartered company AST SpaceMobile, focused on building the world's first space-based cellular broadband network, gets a financial boost, as reported by Ars Technica.

New investors Google and AT&T, along with Vodafone, who previously invested in the project, announced a new strategic partnership, providing an aggregate new financing of up to $206.5 million. This includes convertible notes, non-dilutive commercial payments, and a planned future draw on the company's existing credit facility.

The capital injection will support AST SpaceMobile's ambitions to deploy commercial services this year as the venture prepares to start producing spacecraft that would be twice as big as its first five 1,500-kilogram operational BlueBird satellites, known as Block 1 and slated to launch on a dedicated SpaceX Falcon 9 before the end of March.

AST SpaceMobile, currently operating the largest-ever commercial communications array in low Earth orbit, pioneered the space-based direct-to-device market. Its patented design enables broadband connectivity directly to standard, unmodified cellular devices, adhering to today's cellular standards. In 2023, the company achieved historic technical milestones in space-based cellular communications, including demonstrations of 2G, 4G LTE, and 5G calls, and 14 Mbps download speeds per 5 MHz channels – directly from space to everyday smartphones.

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