AST SpaceMobile has signed a five-year deal with Nokia as it works to develop the only space-based cellular network.
AST SpaceMobile’s goal is to provide 4G and 5G cellular service from space. Such a network would be largely immune from many of the geographical issues that can impede traditional terrestrial network rollouts. Like any spaced-based service, AST SpaceMobile’s service will require ground base stations, which Nokia will provide, according to the companies.
Nokia will provide equipment from its comprehensive, energy-efficient AirScale portfolio including its AirScale base stations powered by its latest generation of Nokia’s ReefShark System-on-Chip (SoC) chipsets. AST SpaceMobile will benefit from Nokia’s modular baseband plug-in cards which add capacity where it is needed offering flexibility and efficiency. Nokia will also provide its NetAct solution for network management and seamless daily network operations as well as optimization and technical support services.
The combination of Nokia’s technology and expertise, combined with AST SpaceMobile’s plan for global coverage, should help close the connectivity gap for millions of people around the world.
“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,” said Scott Wisniewski, Chief Strategy Officer at AST SpaceMobile. “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.”