Vodafone Spain has announced plans to start a series of pilot projects in the coming months to test satellite voice and data services with AST SpaceMobile. The aim is to verify the effectiveness of what the partners describe as the first mobile broadband service that will connect directly to standard mobile phones with 5G, 4G and 2G via satellite in Spain. 

AST SpaceMobile, which has a mutual exclusivity with Vodafone in 24 countries, completed deployment of the communications array for its BlueWalker 3 test satellite last November. The array, deployed in low Earth orbit, is designed to communicate directly with mobile devices via 3GPP standard frequencies at 5G speeds.

Vodafone said its current 4G and 5G coverage footprint in Spain could increase to 95 percent once the satellite technology is operational, extending to rural, remote or hard-to-reach areas and maritime corridors, in addition to providing instant communications in the event of natural or humanitarian disasters.

The operator added that AST SpaceMobile’s command centre for traffic management in the Mediterranean will be located in Spain and managed by Vodafone, as will a satellite control centre to optimise the operations of the satellite fleet.

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