AT&T is moving closer to making satellite-to-cellular calling a reality by entering a long-term spectrum lease agreement with AST SpaceMobile. In an FCC filing, AT&T said that it will lease to AST certain 850 MHz cellular A and B block spectrum as well as certain lower 700 MHz B and C block spectrum.
An AT&T spokeswoman explained that the leases are ‘non-exclusive’ and that AST’s satellites will not transmit in areas covered by AT&T’s terrestrial cellular network. “For example, we might cover 80 percent of the area of a 700 MHz license, and AST could train spot beams on the remainder,” she said.
In the FCC filing, AT&T further elaborated on the deal, noting that AST intends to provide broadband access “directly to AT&T customer handsets that operate on the Leased Spectrum, without any modifications or the use of special chipsets, and without the buildout of any additional terrestrial wireless infrastructure.”