AST SpaceMobile set for commercial rollout with new investments from AT&T, Google, Vodafone

New investors join Vodafone on backing ‘cellular in space’ network

Satellite direct-to-cellular company AST SpaceMobile has garnered two major new financial backers, adding AT&T and Google as strategic investors along with additional funding from existing partner Vodafone to support commercial roll-out of its technology.

The company announced that it has gained aggregate new financing of up to $206.5 million from the investments of AT&T, Google and new capital from Vodafone, and that it plans to draw on an additional sum up to $51.5 million from a credit line.

The investments encompass $20 million in revenue commitments from AT&T that are predicated on the successful launch and operation of AST SpaceMobile’s first five commercial satellites, and a minimum $25 million in revenue commitments from Vodafone. Both carriers have placed purchase orders in undisclosed amounts for AST SpaceMobile network equipment that will support planned commercial services, the satellite company said in a release.

Meanwhile, Google and AST SpaceMobile have agreed to joint work on product development, testing and implementation of AST SpaceMobile’s tech on Android devices.

AST SpaceMobile said that its BlueWalker 3 satellite currently has the largest-ever commercial communications array in low Earth orbit. It also has satellites in the works with beams designed to support capacity of up to 40 megahertz, which AST SpaceMobile says will could potentially enable data speeds of up to 120 Mbps.

“With this strategic investment, we are gaining capital, invaluable expertise, and strategic partnership,” said Abel Avellan, chairman and CEO of AST SpaceMobile. “This investment comes alongside prior investments by other leaders in the wireless ecosystem, including Rakuten, American Tower, and Bell Canada, all of whom are not only part owners of AST SpaceMobile but also serve as our technology partners and customers. Each new partnership signifies that market leaders worldwide have tremendous confidence in our vision and ability to ensure that the future of cellular broadband is borderless.”

AST SpaceMobile announced a number of successful tests with carrier partners in the past year, including with AT&T.

“Through our work with AST SpaceMobile, we’ve already proven the possibilities that satellite has to offer in helping connect more people via text, voice and video,” said Chris Sambar, EVP and head of network for AT&T. “We’re excited to deepen our relationship with this investment as we continue to drive a first-of-its-kind innovation forward and work together to achieve this shared vision of space-based connectivity for consumers, businesses and first responders all around the globe.”

Margherita Della Valle, Vodafone Group CEO, said that the company’s investment and collaboration with AST SpaceMobile “will help make our mobile connectivity services available everywhere for our customers across Europe and Africa,” including 5G access on land or sea without the need for special handset or equipment.

AST SpaceMobile said that it already has agreements and deals in place with 40 mobile network operators around the world that service around 2 billion customers, and that it anticipates that the direct-to-cellular technology could offer connectivity to 5.5 billion cellular devices in use today.

Comments are closed.