Nokia signed a five-year deal to supply RAN gear to satellite company AST SpaceMobile, as the latter prepares to launch its next satellite to test its new 4G/5G connectivity services with operators globally.
Nokia will be supplying AST SpaceMobile with its AirScale Single RAN equipment as the satellite firm prepares to launch its low earth orbit satellite BlueWalker 3 in September from Cape Canaveral, Florida, kicking off global testing with operators on six continents.
AST SpaceMobile is building a satellite-based cellular broadband network which will be directly accessible by 4G and 5G devices. The company has agreements and understandings with operators that will collectively service over 1.8 billion subscribers.
The aim of the project is to fill in connectivity gaps on a global scale, a joint ambition of both companies. Nokia noted five billion mobile subscribers see gaps in their connectivity and around half of the world’s population are still not connected.
AST SpaceMobile’s project aims to reach subscribers outside of operator coverage zones without the need for expensive traditional land infrastructure.
AST SpaceMobile chief strategy officer Scott Wisniewski said: “With the integration of Nokia’s 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.”