SatCo Makes First 5G Satellite Call Using Unmodified Smartphone

“One needs to understand, however, that initial use cases for 5G satellite, expected in the next two to three years, are geared towards emergency calls and messages and low data transmissions below 75 Mbps,” he told TechNewsWorld.

He was less optimistic about the technology getting traction among most consumers. “It’s easier to write stories about what you can do with the combination of mobile and satellite than it is to get customers to pay for the extra functionality,” he said.

Lack of access to the internet is considered a significant social issue, so any technology solutions that can bridge that gap meaningfully are important, added Leigh.

Nevertheless, there are those who see the future of wireless communication orbiting the earth. “5G satellite service for voice and data is the next step in wireless,” observed technology analyst Jeff Kagan.

A satellite network provider on Tuesday announced it has successfully used its space hardware to complete a voice and data call from an unmodified smartphone.

The main driver behind 5G satellite service is 2.6 billion people who are unconnected globally, maintained Octavio Garcia, a senior analyst with Forrester, a market research company headquartered in Cambridge, Mass.

Satellite coverage won’t be massively important to most people, contended Michael Hodel, director of equity research for the media and telecom sector for Morningstar Research Services in Chicago.

The 5G call, the first of its kind, was made from Maui, Hawaii, to a Vodafone engineer in Madrid, Spain, using AT&T spectrum and AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 test satellite.

“From a consumer perspective,” he told TechNewsWorld, “a fully interoperable terrestrial and non-terrestrial network will provide complete coverage that’s not limited by towers and terrestrial radio units.”

“From an enterprise perspective,” he continued, “this creates an interoperable network that can provide connectivity, security and leverage different connectivity infrastructure to ensure devices and use cases that need 100% uptime connectivity are connected despite the morphology and location — even at sea or in the air.”

“The AST test resulted in a download speed of 14 Mbps — that doesn’t even meet the FCC’s definition of broadband, which starts at 25 Mbps download speeds,” he explained. “That means that satellite, for now, is really a connectivity of last resorts with relatively little broad-scale utility other than the emergency services type of use on the current iPhone.”

Future of Wireless