StockMarketWire.com - Telecom giant Vodafone said it and Japan's Rakuten had become lead investors in a venture to develop what it claimed would be the first mobile broadband network broadcast from space.

The venture would be branded Branded SpaceMobile and involve mobilization of a satellite network developed by AST & Science that would connect directly to standard smartphones.

AST & Science successfully tested the SpaceMobile technology aboard the BlueWalker 1 satellite, launched in April 2019, and had been further validating the technology.

Vodafone did not specify the size of the new investment, other than to say that it brought the total capital raised by AST & Science to $128m, including early investments from Cisneros and founder Abel Avellan.

Other investors included American Tower and Samsung Next.

AST & Science would initially offer 4G services to partner networks globally, with 5G delivered in the future.

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