Tuesday, 24 January 2023

AT&T and AST SpaceMobile plan to extend coverage for consumers, businesses & first responders

AT&T has been working with the satellite pioneer AST SpaceMobile for a white as reported by Light Reading back in 2020. In a new video, AT&T gives AST SpaceMobile a big, public shoutout. The video is embedded below.

The following is from CNET article:

T-Mobile has partnered with SpaceX to boost its coverage through SpaceX's Starlink satellite network. Verizon has been talking about working with Amazon's Project Kuiper program. Now AT&T has announced a new satellite partner of its own. 

On Tuesday the carrier announced a new partnership with AST SpaceMobile, a satellite company, to use its low Earth orbit satellites to help bolster AT&T's terrestrial coverage. In a video about the partnership, Chris Sambar, AT&T's president of network, says that the wireless carrier has received "conditional approval" to use some of its wireless spectrum to connect cell phones to the satellites. 

In the video, Sambar quickly goes through a few broad applications ranging from helping its FirstNet first-responder network to business applications like "remote agriculture" and "remote machinery." 

AT&T already has a satellite partnership with satellite company OneWeb to offer connections to the wireless carrier's business users but hadn't announced any consumer-focused satellite service. 

Sambar does, however, hint at a possible consumer application as he describes how his mother-in-law's drive from rural Virginia to Richmond to "see her kids and grandkids" includes a road that currently struggles for coverage from "any wireless carrier." That drive, he says, could potentially be covered by a "space-based mobile solution." 

AT&T tells CNET that it plans to use the service to offer "integrated, complementary and real connectivity from satellite-based solutions for voice, data and video services." 

As for device support, AT&T says the service is "intended to integrate with all of our customers' devices using LTE and 5G broadband on our existing mobile network." The carrier, however, says it is "too early" to say if it will charge extra for the service or include it with customers' existing plans. 

As for when AT&T and AST SpaceMobile's service might start to appear, AST SpaceMobile has previously talked about testing its "direct-to-cell satellite capabilities" during the first quarter of next year before launching its first five commercial satellites in "late 2023." AT&T plans to join this testing in the first quarter. 

Scott Wisniewski, chief strategy officer at AST SpaceMobile, tells CNET in a statement that after the launch of those satellites next year it will be able to "offer intermittent broadband services in 2024." 

Light Reading article points out:

The video is noteworthy because AT&T is one of the biggest wireless network operators in the world, and Sambar controls a large part of the operator's multibillion-dollar network spending budget. The fact that he made a five-minute support video for SpaceMobile will likely go a long way toward convincing regulators and investors to provide both the necessary approvals for SpaceMobile's satellite launch plans as well as the money it will take to get the company's satellites into low-Earth orbit (LEO).

It would be interesting to see how all these satellite connectivity complementing the terrestrial networks and connectivity work out. There is a huge potential but the path towards that is a really tough one.

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Friday, 6 January 2023

Dialog Launches First Immersive Metaverse, Futureverse, in Sri Lanka

We may not yet have a firm definition of Metaverse but that hasn't stopped operators launching their own Metaverse. Sri Lanka's Dialog is the latest operator to announce their 'Futureverse'. The press release noted:

Continuing to spearhead technology firsts in the country and the region, Dialog Axiata PLC, launched ‘Futureverse’ – Sri Lanka’s first fully immersive, interactive and experiential Metaverse where people can shop for Dialog products and services, socialize, attend events, and play games in one persistent virtual world.

Futureverse is an immersive and interactive virtual world where users can create their own custom avatars. This virtual world will enable visitors access to all Dialog products and services available at any Dialog Experience Centre, socialize with friends, watch movies, take part in workshops, visit exhibitions, and more. Powered by immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and extended reality (XR), the Futureverse, from Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, extends a seemingly borderless digital realm that delivers endless experiences and possibilities, where visitors can experience a unique virtual world filled with abstract landscapes and objects. Futureverse is a fun way to spend free time while interacting with friends virtually through voice or chat.

If you do not know the difference between AR, VR, MR and XR, we suggest you check out our short video here. The following is a video of Futureverse from Dialog:

With MWC just around the corner, we will see a lot more of Metaverse action in the coming weeks and months.

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