Vodafone has made the world’s first space-based 5G call using an unmodified handset, thanks to a test satellite operated by AST SpaceMobile. The call was made on September 8 from Maui, Hawaii, to a Vodafone engineer in Madrid, Spain, using a Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone and the WhatsApp voice and messaging app.
This achievement is a significant step towards providing reliable and affordable 5G connectivity to people in remote and underserved areas. AST SpaceMobile is planning to launch five commercial BlueBird satellites in early 2024, which will provide 4G and 5G coverage to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
Margherita Della Valle, Vodafone Group Chief Executive, hailed this achievement as a crucial step towards bridging the mobile usage gap for millions in Europe and Africa. She stated, “By making the world’s first space-based 5G call to Europe, we have taken another important step in realizing that ambition.”
AST SpaceMobile had previously demonstrated its capabilities by facilitating two-way voice calls to unmodified smartphones via the BlueWalker 3 in April. This technology has the potential to provide internet connectivity to remote regions using existing mobile phones.
The sources for this piece include an article in TheRegister.