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AT&T Files With FCC to Lease Spectrum to AST SpaceMobile 

By Rachel Jewett | May 11, 2023

Rendering of an AST SpaceMobile satellite. Photo: AST SpaceMobile

AT&T has filed with the FCC to lease spectrum to AST SpaceMobile for satellite direct-to-cell service. 

In filings to the FCC on Thursday, AT&T notified the commission it has a long-term spectrum lease agreement with AST SpaceMobile to lease certain 850 MHz cellular A and B block spectrum and certain lower 700 MHz B and C block spectrum. This agreement will let AST SpaceMobile use AT&T’s spectrum to offer satellite direct-to-cell service, also known as supplemental coverage from space, because it supplements AT&T’s network. 

This comes after AST SpaceMobile recently reported successful two-way voice calls to unmodified smartphones using the BlueWalker 3 satellite — a critical milestone for the company’s test satellite. 

AST SpaceMobile’s business model is to work with mobile network operators and use their spectrum to provide satellite-to-cell service, allowing the MNOs to expand their networks. 

AT&T and AST SpaceMobile asked the FCC to waive certain requirements like a blanket earth station license, arguing the service is in the public’s interest. The company intends to provide broadband access directly to AT&T customer phones. AT&T argued to the FCC that “rather than displacing terrestrial network facilities nationwide, AST’s coverage will be complementary to AT&T’s extensive terrestrial network coverage.”