SpaceMobile’s 5G from space touted as a game-changer
Abel Avellan has a clear message for his company’s investors and the wider market in general: Speedy 5G is coming. From space. Soon.
“We believe being connected is a human right,” said Avellan, the CEO of SpaceMobile, which is the go-to-market brand from Midland, Texas-based startup AST & Science (AST).
However, Avellan is facing some stiff opposition. T-Mobile and Verizon are urging the FCC to reject SpaceMobile’s satellite launch plans, arguing the company’s operations could potentially interfere with their terrestrial networks. And NASA – the US federal agency in charge of civilian space flight – is warning that SpaceMobile’s satellites could cause “unacceptably high risk of a catastrophic debris-producing collision.”
“They don’t really know our system,” Avellan said of NASA’s concerns. “We will address this.”
SpaceMobile is one of two startups (the other is called Lynk) that wants to beam 5G signals directly to mobile users’ existing smartphones from low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites using incumbent wireless network operators’ licensed spectrum holdings. Such a technology would be revolutionary because it would immediately eliminate virtually all dead zones, ensuring that mobile customers have a signal no matter where they are, all via their current phone.
Speedy 5G from space
After testing its technology with AT&T – as Light Reading first reported – SpaceMobile went public earlier this year with the announcement of a $110 million Series B round of funding from Japan’s Rakuten, Europe’s Vodafone, cell tower giant American Tower, real estate company Cisneros and Samsung’s venture capital arm, Samsung Next. Today, the company counts around 160 full-time employees and hopes to begin launching its commercial satellites as early as next year.
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