On Tuesday, a satellite network operator said that it had successfully completed a voice and data call from an unmodified smartphone using their space technology. The first 5G call, conducted from Maui, Hawaii, to a Vodafone engineer in Madrid, Spain, was made utilising AT&T airwaves and AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 test satellite.
The call was made on September 8 from a wireless dead zone in Hana, Hawaii, using a Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone, according to AST.
In a separate test, the business, which is developing a space-based cellular broadband network, achieved a download speed of 14 Mbps, breaking its previous data session record.
“Since the release of BlueWalker 3, we’ve achieved complete compatibility with phones from all major manufacturers, as well as support for 2G, 4G LTE, and now 5G.” Abel Avellan, CEO of AST, issued a statement.
“These are extraordinary landmarks in telecommunications history,” said AT&T Network President Chris Sambar in a statement.
Small Subset Appeal
The AST call is yet another example of what 5G can do, according to Jason Leigh, a senior research analyst for mobility at IDC, a worldwide market and research organisation.
“The real applications of it, whether for consumers or business,” he told TechNewsWorld, “remain relatively distant.” Most consumers will not care about satellite coverage, according to Michael Hodel, director of equities analysis for the media and telecom sector at Morningstar analysis Services in Chicago.
Reluctance To Pay More
There is little doubt that satellites now provide cost-effective communication solutions, just as they do for airlines, according to John Strand of Strand Consult in Denmark, a telecom consulting business.
He was less hopeful about the technology gaining momentum with the majority of customers. “I don’t believe there is a high willingness to pay,” he remarked.
Coverage Without Limits
However, Michael Misrahi, Americas telecommunications chief for global professional services company Ernst & Young, believes that 5G satellite service is essential.
“It also serves to improve network infrastructure through the use of backhaul, particularly for maritime and rural applications,” he added.
“This makes digital transformations and use case adoption for the enterprise in IoT, AI, and elsewhere all technically viable and without disruption from a singular infrastructure failure or potentially by borders,” he added.
According to Octavio Garcia, a senior analyst at Forrester, a market research firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the fundamental force behind 5G satellite service is the world’s 2.6 billion disconnected people.
Lack of internet access is regarded as a serious societal concern, therefore any technological solutions that might bridge that gap meaningfully are crucial, according to Leigh.
Future of Wireless
According to Hodel, there is still a lot that is unknown about the satellite sector. Elon Musk’s Starlink network, he claims, has fundamentally altered the game in the last two years, breaking the monopoly of service offered by a limited number of huge geosynchronous satellites.
“Using a fleet of potentially tens of thousands of orbiting low-Earth satellites could dramatically increase the amount of capacity available and bring down the cost of delivering that capacity,” he added.
“However,” he wrote, “there is clearly a coordination problem as more firms, such as Amazon’s Kuiper, attempt to enter this market.” It is unclear how competing interests and governments will regulate physical space and frequency utilisation.”
Nonetheless, some envisage the future of wireless communication orbiting the Earth. “5G satellite service for voice and data is the next step in wireless,” said Jeff Kagan, a technology expert.