By Emma Roth , a news writer who covers the streaming wars, consumer tech, crypto, social media, and much more. Previously, she was a writer and editor at MUO.
AST SpaceMobile — a cellular satellite company backed by AT&T — has placed a satellite call over 5G, marking the “first ever” 5G connection between an unmodified smartphone and a satellite in space.
To conduct the test, AST SpaceMobile used a Galaxy S22. It made the call on September 8th, 2023, from a wireless dead zone in Maui, Hawaii, with its recipient located in Madrid, Spain. AST SpaceMobile got the cell signal to its destination by leveraging its low Earth orbit test satellite, called BlueWalker 3 (BW3), and AT&T’s 5G spectrum. Vodafone, Nokia, and AT&T all validated the call.
There have been a few tests leading up to this latest milestone. In April, SpaceMobile routed its first space-based phone call on AT&T’s 2G network. It later sent a 4G LTE signal from space that an ordinary phone managed to pick up, while also touting 10Mbps download speeds. However, AST SpaceMobile says it has since broken that download speed record by achieving a rate of around 14Mbps in a separate test.