AST SpaceMobile Goes Public, Enters Maritime Partnership with OneWeb

Photo by AST SpaceMobile

Space-based cellular broadband network provider AST SpaceMobile is the latest special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) to go public after it completed its combination with New Providence Acquisition Corp. AST SpaceMobile common stock and warrants will now trade on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbols ASTS and ASTSW, respectively.

Speaking on a webinar hosted by SpaceNews and Quilty Analytics, AST SpaceMobile CEO Abel Avellan said the company took the SPAC route to its IPO so that it could bring its services to market more quickly. “The SPAC gives us the capital we need to proceed in a more timely manner and hit our target dates,” said Avellan. “It also allows the public to get more directly involved in what we’re doing as investors, which I think is a good thing for everyone.

AST is developing a planned space-based mobile network in partnership with Vodafone and hopes to launch service by the end of 2023. In a statement given after his company went public, Avellan said the transaction makes AST, “fully funded and prepared to execute phase one of our commercial launch and bring coverage to 49 countries in the equatorial region with a total population of approximately 1.6 billion people.”

New Providence first agreed to combine with AST SpaceMobile in December. The companies estimated that combined entity would be worth $1.4 billion. AST and New Providence hit its forecasted $462 million gross proceeds target from the completion of the IPO.

AST SpaceMobile believes that its mobile wireless services will compete in a global market with at least five billion potential customers and an addressable value of $1 trillion. The first iteration of its network will involve the launch of 20 satellites targeting an area north and south of the equator, including rural and remote areas. Vodafone plans to integrate AST SpaceMobile’s services into those provided by its Vodacom, Safaricom and Vodafone brands.

Just after announcing the successful IPO, AST SpaceMobile announced it entered into a strategic partnership with satellite operator OneWeb to offer combined low latency connectivity services to maritime and offshore industrial end-users.

OneWeb said it would run customer beta trials with AST in remote Northern Europe regions before the end of 2021. The partners expect full commercial service to be available in 2022. Once that service is launched, OneWeb will provide AST’s commercial shipping, fishing and high-end offshore end-users with low-latency connectivity, “as an alternative to the current VSAT [Very Small Aperture Terminal] internet solutions.”

“We’re proud to work with The AST Group, not just because of the strength of its market insight, reach and capabilities, but because of our shared belief that remote, faultless connectivity is essential to delivering operational excellence,” OneWeb’s Head of Maritime Services Carole Plessy said in a statement. “By partnering with AST, we are another step closer to making LEO connectivity available to more marine and offshore customers, ending the legacy of complex, slow and costly VSAT systems.”



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