Zain looks at mobile satellite coverage for Saudi Arabia
AST SpaceMobile has signed a memorandum of understanding with a branch of Zain to expand satellite service to mobile phones.
The deal is with the Saudi Arabian branch of Zain, the group that has operations in seven countries in the Middle East and north Africa.
Zain Saudi Arabia’s CTO, Abdulrahman Al-Mufadda (pictured), said: “We are committed to expanding our digital services and communications to deliver an inclusive ecosystem that covers the whole kingdom with the highest service quality and reliability, thereby enhancing our role in achieving a more connected and sustainable world.”
AST SpaceMobile makes it clear that it is a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) that has been signed. But Chris Ivory, the satellite company’s chief commercial officer, said: “We hope this collaboration will further access to reliable, space-based cellular broadband for current and future mobile users in the country.”
The announcement comes days after AST SpaceMobile repeated that it has a non-binding MoU with TIM Brazil, even though the company made a similar announcement in January.
Last year the Nasdaq-listed US company said its initial trials will focus on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Three years ago American Tower, Japan’s Rakuten, South Korea’s Samsung and UK-based Vodafone all invested in AST SpaceMobile.
Al-Mufadda added: “We are confident that our collaboration with AST SpaceMobile could help to potentially provide space based cellular broadband connectivity in the kingdom, particularly in remote areas. In doing that, we reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that every citizen and resident in this precious land is connected wherever they may be.”
AST SpaceMobile said the MoU would enable the companies to collaborate towards new telecom solutions and satellite-based digital services in Saudi Arabia and aim to increase access to mobile services in remote locations, including on land, at sea and in flight.