Orange tests AST SpaceMobile technology to improve network coverage in Africa

07 April 2022

Orange signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with AST SpaceMobile to test its space-based cellular broadband network in one of its African markets.

AST SpaceMobile’s service, which will be deployed via the BlueWalker 3 satellite, will allow people to connect directly to the network on their cell phones via standard 3GPP frequencies, without the need for additional equipment on the ground.

Chris Ivory, AST SpaceMobile’s chief commercial officer, says that through this directly applicable solution, the company is “looking to not only fill the gaps in cellular broadband coverage for millions of existing subscribers, but also to extend mobile service to areas that currently have little or no coverage.”

French telecom group Orange, like many mobile network operators, is currently expanding its solutions to meet the growing demand for quality telecom services in Africa.

Satellite is an option that is already being implemented. But it has its limitations in that the ground equipment on which the signal is retransmitted does not always allow for effective coverage of populations in remote areas.

AST SpaceMobile’s space technology will help Orange bring the signal everywhere it is needed. The consumer will be able to connect directly to the network. The MOU between Orange and AST SpaceMobile paves the way for discussions on a potential agreement for the telecom operator to use the BlueBird satellite network that the space-based telecom service provider is preparing.