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A project aimed at creating a space-based cellular broadband network can soon kill the fame of Apple‘s Emergency SOS via Satellite feature. Once established, this will allow not only sending messages but also performing voice and video calls, even in the most remote areas of the world.

Currently, one of the biggest features of the iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 lineup is Apple’s Emergency SOS via Satellite feature. In the past months, different stories have proved how handy it is, allowing Apple’s smartphones to further gain value in the eyes of its customers. However, this might soon end once the project of AST SpaceMobile reaches its final stages.

AST SpaceMobile, a publicly traded satellite designer and manufacturer based in Texas, has been conducting tests in collaboration with Vodafone, AT&T, and Nokia. The objective is to create the first space-based cellular broadband network that should work with any standard mobile phone. On Tuesday, the company announced that it successfully performed a 5G voice and data connection between an unmodified Samsung Galaxy S22 and its BlueWalker 3 test satellite.

In the video shared by the company, it was demonstrated how the company’s engineers made a call to an engineer in Madrid, Spain, while in a cellular dead zone in Maui, Hawaii. According to the team, it only used AT&T’s cellular spectrum and its satellite.

Aside from this, the company has also managed to attain a download rate of approximately 14 Mbps in a separate space-based cellular broadband data session test. In April, AST’s test for space-based voice calls using regular smartphones was also successful. All these results are the fruition of the company’s series of tests involving voice calls, 4G video calls, and 5G cellular broadband connections.

In a press release, AST shared that the speeds its tests have reached should allow not just voice calls and text messaging but also internet browsing, file downloading, and video streaming.

On the other hand, while this sounds good news for many, the project appears as a threat to Apple’s satellite messaging service, which is exclusive to iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 lineups and soon expected to charge customers after its free first two years end.

According to a recent report, Apple’s partner and service provider for the feature, Globalstar, plans to boost the service by launching new satellites into space. The first part of this plan seems to be Apple’s newly unveiled “Emergency Roadside Assistance via Satellite” service, which is dedicated to users in vehicles stuck in remote areas. In the future, Apple might soon offer this to more of its future iPhone models, explaining Globalstar’s need for more satellites. However, in the future, all these efforts could be obscured by AST SpaceMobile’s future offerings, which go beyond simple texts using any smartphone model.


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