AT&T deal will make every phone a satellite phone

Soon, AT&T subscribers will be able to access cell service even in typical dead zones like national parks or remote rural areas. Mobile operator AST has been working with SpaceMobile under a Memorandum of Understanding since 2018, helping the latter conduct bilateral testing. audio calls, texts and video calls via satellites in space using conventional smartphones. Now the companies have entered into a definitive commercial agreement, meaning AT&T is getting closer to offering its subscribers the ability to turn their regular phones into legal satellite devices.

Phones must be close enough to cell towers to use any service. Therefore, people usually cannot call or even text their families when they are in the forest or in the mountains. AT&T’s satellite-to-phone service will use satellites as cell towers, and since they are placed in orbit, they will be able to provide connectivity even in remote areas.

The companies have agreed to launch a rocket this summer that will carry five commercial AST satellites into space. These satellites will enable AT&T to launch its service, and are just the first in a constellation the company plans. Unfortunately, AT&T has yet to announce a specific launch date for the service, and it’s unclear whether it will charge extra for the feature.

Last year AT&T wrote the FCC T-Mobile and SpaceX’s Starlink are trying to raise concerns about similar satellite-phone technology. Two companies formed an alliance In 2022, it promises to provide a service that users can access even if they are in the middle of the ocean. SpaceX launched the first Starlink satellites with direct mobile service capability in January 2024, and the companies sent and received A week later the first text messages through T-Mobile using satellites. The carrier said it plans to launch satellite-based messaging to the public sometime this year.

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