PLDT mobile division Smart Communications announced today (19 May) that it hopes to be the first company in the Philippines to test US-based start-up AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 satellite to ‘connect directly to ordinary, unmodified mobile phones for better coverage in remote areas’. The partners recently submitted proposals to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), following which DICT Acting Secretary Emmanuel Rey Caintic is reported as saying the introduction of space-based cellular broadband network for mobile phones could be a ‘game-changer’ in the Philippines.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, Texas-based AST SpaceMobile inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with PLDT-Smart on 6 July 2021 under which the vendor confirmed its intention to supply cellular broadband connectivity to the Philippines’ mainland, islands, and surrounding waters. ‘Our collaboration with Smart to look into opportunities to offer the SpaceMobile service to their customers in rural communities would allow the company to offer affordable broadband cellular access to the unconnected for the first time ever,’ CEO Abel Avellan confirmed at the time. Nasdaq-listed AST SpaceMobile – whose mission statement is to fill ‘coverage gaps for over five billion people moving around the planet’ – is building what it claims is the first ‘space-based cellular broadband network accessible directly by standard mobile phones’.