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FCC grants experimental license to AST SpaceMobile for BlueWalker 3 satellite

BlueWalker 3 is a test satellite designed to communicate directly with unmodified cell phones to test AST SpaceMobile’s technology and service model.

AST SpaceMobile, the company building the space-based cellular broadband network designed to be accessible directly by standard mobile phones, has received an experimental license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) supporting its US-based testing of the BlueWalker 3 satellite.

The license covers BlueWalker 3 space-to-ground testing in the United States using 3GPP low-band cellular frequencies and Q/V-band frequencies, subject to certain restrictions.

The authorisation comes as the company prepares for the planned summer 2022 launch of BlueWalker 3, its test satellite with an aperture of 693 square feet that is designed to communicate directly with cell phones via 3GPP standard frequencies.

Commenting on the development, Abel Avellan, Founder, Chairman and CEO of AST SpaceMobile, said: “We appreciate the diligent support of the FCC in providing the experimental license for our upcoming satellite launch. Together with other testing around the world, this license will enable us to conduct some of our most important testing here, at home, in the United States.”

AST SpaceMobile continues to pursue additional authorisations with the FCC related to its planned constellation of BlueBird satellites.

AST SpaceMobile’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. Partners in this effort are leading global wireless infrastructure companies, including Rakuten Mobile, Vodafone and American Tower.