First space-based cellular broadband network designed to be compatible with existing mobile phones globally, including GCC and MENA region
AST SpaceMobile, the company building the first and only space-based cellular broadband network accessible directly by standard mobile phones, is turning its attention to the GCC and MENA region. The company's mission is to eliminate the connectivity gaps faced by today's five billion mobile subscribers moving in and out of coverage zones and bring cellular broadband to approximately half of the world's population who remain unconnected.
Abel Avellan, Chairman and CEO, said what makes SpaceMobile unique is that “the service will offer broadband connectivity directly to the unmodified mobile phone in your pocket, with the latest 4G and 5G service, bypassing the need for a separate ground antenna or specialised handset." The company plans to participate in the global wireless services market, which generates over US$1 trillion in annual revenue, and the company’s technology is backed by an extensive IP portfolio of over 1,200 patent and patent-pending claims.
The company is led by founder Abel Avellan, a serial entrepreneur who sold his previous company, Emerging Market Communications (EMC) for US$550 million in 2016. EMC was active in the UAE going back to 2011, with operations on the first Emirati broadband satellites.
AST SpaceMobile recently went public on the NASDAQ exchange, raising US$462 million, and unveiled plans to launch its second prototype spacecraft early next year. The spacecraft will feature a phased array of over 60 square meters in size, which will make it one of the largest ever to operate from space. Alongside this prototype launch, AST SpaceMobile is seeking out manufacturing partners for its planned 168 spacecraft constellation from key regions globally. Abel said, “based on my past experience in the UAE, we are very comfortable with the potential to find specialized component manufacturing partners here for our future production spacecrafts.”
Once the constellation is operational, the company’s business model is to partner with existing local mobile network operators to improve service for their subscribers. Through this technology, people can remain connected at broadband speeds, anywhere on land, in the air, or at sea. Abel added that "our advanced technology aims to eliminate cellular coverage gaps and dropped calls and provide seamless broadband connectivity to existing mobile phones when they are out of range from their local cell towers. We are focused on bringing affordable broadband data, voice, and text services to those in rural and remote areas without cellular coverage.”
AST SpaceMobile sees multiple applications for their service, including helping governments across the globe to meet universal connectivity goals and finally bridge the digital divide for cellular broadband. To achieve its mission, AST SpaceMobile is currently working with several global wireless infrastructure companies, including Rakuten, Vodafone, and American Tower. The company has also entered into agreements and understandings with mobile network operators around the world, collectively covering approximately 1.5 billion mobile subscribers.