Google, in collaboration with mobile operators AT&T and Vodafone, has invested $110 million in AST SpaceMobile. The ambitious project aims to deploy a constellation of satellites functioning as cellular base stations, enabling connectivity for unmodified smartphones.
Last year, AST SpaceMobile showcased the capabilities of its BlueWalker 3 satellite, facilitating calls from conventional smartphones and delivering internet speeds of up to 14 Mbps. Google’s attention was captured, leading to a collaborative effort on product development and testing. The partnership includes plans to integrate SpaceMobile network connectivity into Android and related devices.
Potential Alternative for Emergency Services:
This partnership presents a prospective alternative to the Android ecosystem for the iPhone’s Emergency SOS feature. This feature allows emergency services to send text messages via satellites when no landline connection is available. AST SpaceMobile intends to utilize the investment to roll out commercial satellite communication services, launching five modified BlueBird devices by the end of the first quarter.
Google’s Strategic Investments:
Google’s support for AST SpaceMobile is not an isolated instance, notes NIXsolutions. In 2015, Google, alongside Fidelity, invested $1 billion in SpaceX. In 2021, they further endorsed the Starlink ground infrastructure. While Starlink collaborates with T-Mobile, AST SpaceMobile seeks additional funding for 20 more satellites. In contrast, SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, plans an aggressive launch of 840 devices supporting direct smartphone connectivity in the next six months.