Smart first to test space-based cellular broadband technology

The wireless arm of telco giant PLDT will be the first to test space-based cellular broadband technology in the Philippines through its collaboration with AST SpaceMobile.
Smart Communications said it would conduct tests of AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 satellite, which is being designed to communicate directly with unmodified mobile phones from low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite.
Through this pioneering technology, Smart’s mobile customers in far-flung areas would be able to enjoy high-speed internet using ordinary smartphones through the use of LEO satellites.
In July last year, Smart signed a memorandum of understanding with the US-based company which is building “the first space-based cellular broadband network accessible directly by standard mobile phones.”
PLDT and global satellite operator Telesat of Canada earlier this year also successfully conducted the Philippines’ first on-orbit testing of high-speed broadband connectivity with Telesat’s phase 1 LEO satellite.
With the testing, PLDT became the country’s first local service provider to conduct live in-orbit test over LEO satellite using an end-user terminal installed at the PLDT facility in Greenhills.
PLDT and Smart’s foray into satellite-powered communication is seen part of a broader initiative to deliver world-class customer services across the country, complementing the nationwide rollout of their fiber optics, and wireless networks based on 4G and 5G technologies.
“These collaborations highlight opportunities for the country to use innovations in the satellite industry to expand mobile and Internet services to more hard-to-reach communities across the country,” Smart said.