For mobile networks, the sky is not the limit
Remember the familiar saying that the space is the final frontier? Let me take a different approach, and say that for mobile networks, space is a developing frontier that helps us expand the boundaries of what is possible with our technology.
On Saturday, 10 September, I was thrilled as I watched the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying AST SpaceMobile’s satellite, BlueWalker 3. It was an exciting experience, the launch itself … and especially thinking about what it can mean for mobile network coverage down here on planet Earth!
Our industry has a big role in connecting the unconnected communities around the world by providing affordable and accessible digital opportunities. In practice, bridging the existing coverage gaps in connectivity is both a practical and economic challenge. This is where AST SpaceMobile’s satellite comes into play – aiming to provide a totally new dimension. The potential solution and service of AST are the first of their kind in the world!
The BlueWalker 3 satellite plans to link to a ground station on Earth to which the Nokia AirScale equipment is connected. The satellite’s fold-out antenna array aims to enable direct mobile broadband communications with standard mobile devices, also located on the ground. Once the satellite is positioned in its low earth orbit and the antenna array is deployed into service, it can carry the radio signals over much greater distances than possible by terrestrial networks, aiming to connect users almost anywhere on Earth.
This first satellite is intended as a test platform to verify the function and capabilities of the system and its components before the service is commercially launched in collaboration with multiple terrestrial mobile operators. The operators’ subscribers could benefit from the extended coverage provided by the satellites without having to purchase expensive new devices.
Read more about our collaboration with AST SpaceMobile in this press release: Nokia radio technology to enable AST SpaceMobile’s direct-to-cell phone connectivity from space.
Why is this adventure into space so important to us at Nokia? We provide the technology and know-how to our customers enabling them to address some of the biggest challenges our world faces. Central to this, we believe that the positive social impact of digitalization and enhanced connectivity is a key to digital inclusion and achieving all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Together with AST SpaceMobile, we are committed to finding real-world solutions to expand universal coverage and close the digital divide around the world.
My excitement continues to build as the test phase approaches, and we get to learn more about the reach of mobile networks beyond the sky. Look out for further updates about our latest journey into space in the coming weeks and months!