Verizon and AT&T Partner with AST SpaceMobile

portable satellite internet

Satellite internet has always provided unique benefits to the telecommunications industry. Most recently Starlink joined the scene of satellite internet providers setting a new standard for the medium. The main advantage of satellite has always been that it doesn't rely on cell towers to connect users, making it functional in remote locations where users would otherwise lose connection. Starlink may now have some serious competition in lieu of a new deal among industry titans. 

 

On May 15, 2024 AT&T announced their partnership with the satellite internet provider AST SpaceMobile. The goal of this partnership is to supplement AT&T’s mobile internet network with SpaceMobile’s satellite broadband internet to effectively eliminate dead zones, dramatically increasing their coverage. Then two weeks later on May, 29 Verizon announced a very similar deal with AST SpaceMobile. The deal with AT&T will be held until 2030, while the duration of the Verizon contract has not yet been made public. 

 

Both of these contracts are likely an answer to the deal which T-Mobile began setting into motion with Starlink back in 2022. This deal between the two looks to accomplish the same end goal: bringing ‘direct to device’ satellite broadband internet functionality to customers. According to T-Mobile, “SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched the first set of Starlink satellites with Direct to Cell capabilities,” on the evening of January 2, 2024.

 

This all begs the question, what will companies do to maintain a competitive advantage against one another? The primary competitive components carriers currently display are price area specific coverage. Though, these deals take aim to eliminate the vast majority of area specific coverage issues. This seems as though it will leave price as the main area of competition with carriers. Perhaps Verizon and AT&T will make regional contracts, or create some other symbiotic parameters. Regardless, these deals have the potential to create a seismic impact on the mobile internet industry. AST SpaceMobile plans to, "deliver our first five commercial satellites to the launch pad in July or August of this year," and according to CNET, “plans to begin its initial operations at some point in 2025.” However, the timeframe in which T-Mobile customers will begin to be able to connect to Starlink satellites is not yet publicly known.  

 

 

“AST Spacemobile Achieves Space-Based 5G Cellular Broadband Connectivity from Everyday Smartphones, Another Historic World First.” AST SpaceMobile, 25 Oct. 2023, ast-science.com/2023/09/19/ast-spacemobile-achieves-space-based-5g-cellular-broadband-connectivity-from-everyday-smartphones-another-historic-world-first/. 
 
Blumenthal, Eli. “Verizon Partners with AST Spacemobile to Use Satellites to Boost Coverage and Fix Dead Zones.” CNET, 29 May 2024, www.cnet.com/tech/mobile/verizon-partners-with-ast-spacemobile-to-use-satellites-to-boost-coverage-and-fix-dead-zones/.
 
“First SpaceX Satellites Launch for Breakthrough Direct to Cell Service with T-Mobile.” T-Mobile, 3 Jan. 2024, www.t-mobile.com/news/un-carrier/first-spacex-satellites-launch-for-breakthrough-direct-to-cell-service-with-t-mobile. 
 
Jewett, Rachel. “Elon Musk Announces SpaceX Starlink Cellular Partnership with T-Mobile.” Via Satellite, 15 Dec. 2023, www.satellitetoday.com/connectivity/2022/08/25/elon-musk-announces-spacex-starlink-cellular-partnership-with-t-mobile/.

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