Smart Communications Inc. has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with AST SpaceMobile Inc., an American company that is building the first and only space-based cellular broadband network.
Under the MOU, the two companies will “explore opportunities” for the introduction of space-based cellular broadband services in rural areas in the Philippines.
“Our collaboration with Smart to look into opportunities to offer the SpaceMobile service to their customers in rural communities would allow the company to offer affordable broadband cellular access to the unconnected for the first time ever,” said Abel Avellan, chairman and CEO of AST SpaceMobile.
This new agreement with Smart adds to SpaceMobile’s existing agreements and understandings with mobile network operators which collectively cover approximately 1.4 billion mobile subscribers.
“This collaboration between Smart and AST SpaceMobile strongly supports this vision, as we continue to invest in our networks and explore the most relevant innovations that will enable us to continue expanding the reach of our services alongside delivering exceptional customer experience across the Philippines’s more than 7,000 islands,” Smart President Alfredo S. Panlilio said.
He added that the new satellite communications technology will help his group to connect “the entire nation” to the internet.
Digital adoption in the Philippines is on the rise because of the pandemic. Space-based cellular broadband fills in the coverage gaps through a satellite system.