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AST SpaceMobile eyes UAE for spacecraft component manufacturing

First space-based cellular broadband network designed to be compatible with existing mobile phones globally, including GCC and MENA region.

AST SpaceMobile, Inc. which is reportedly building the first space-based cellular broadband network accessible directly by standard mobile phones, is looking to enter the GCC and MENA region.

AST SpaceMobile recently unveiled plans to launch its second prototype spacecraft early next year.  Alongside this prototype launch, AST SpaceMobile is seeking out manufacturing partners for its planned 168-spacecraft constellation from key regions globally.

“The service will offer broadband connectivity directly to the unmodified mobile phone in your pocket, with the latest 4G and 5G service, bypassing the need for a separate ground antenna or specialized handset,” commented Abel Avellan, Chairman and CEO.

Avellan, a serial entrepreneur, sold his previous company, Emerging Market Communications (EMC) for US$550m in 2016. EMC was active in the UAE going back to 2011, with operations on the first Emirati broadband satellites.

“Based on my past experience in the UAE, we are very comfortable with the potential to find specialised component manufacturing partners here for our future production spacecrafts,” he remarked.

The company’s mission is to eliminate the connectivity gaps faced by today’s 5bn mobile subscribers moving in and out of coverage zones and bring cellular broadband to approximately half of the world’s population who remain unconnected.

“The company plans to participate in the global wireless services market, which generates over US$1tn in annual revenue, and the company’s technology is backed by an extensive IP portfolio of more than 1,200 patent and patent-pending claims,” he added.

AST SpaceMobile sees multiple applications for their service, including helping governments across the globe to meet universal connectivity goals and finally bridge the digital divide for cellular broadband. To achieve its mission, AST SpaceMobile is currently working with several global wireless infrastructure companies, including Rakuten, Vodafone, and American Tower.