The Latest Industry Analysis of the Mobile Telecommunications Market “Direct to cell” summary 【Warpspace CSO talks about Mobile World Congress 2024 Part II】

Warpspace Inc.
3 min readMar 29, 2024

Warpspace has been selected by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) for the FY2023 SBIR Program for the development of optical communication modems and routers with compatibility and interoperability in satellite optical communication networks (*1).

As a trend in space equipment development in general, the diversion of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products that are also used on the ground is important. Based on this background, Warpspace CSO Hirokazu Mori attended the Mobile World Congress 2024 (MWC), one of the world’s largest events on mobile communications held in Barcelona from February 28 to 29.

(*1 [Warpspace] Warpspace has been selected for NEDO’s R&D-based start-up support program “SBIR Promotion Program” for FY2023)

In the second part of this report, the latest trends of satellite communication players will be explained based on an interview with Warpspace CSO Hirokazu Mori, who participated in the event.

Click here to read the first part of the article.

One topic that Mori paid particular attention to at this year’s MWC was the presence of satellite communications players. To realize high-capacity, low-latency, and multi-connected 5G and beyond 5G, it is essential to develop communication technologies in space, such as high-speed communication technologies between satellites and the “direct to cell” concept to connect satellites and mobile terminals on the ground. Due to the structure of the industry, the presence of satellite carriers providing these services in the terrestrial mobile communications market is steadily increasing, according to Mori.

SpaceX’s direct communication service between its Starlink satellite and au smartphones (*2) and Iridium Communications’ “direct to cell” business (*3), a collaboration with Qualcomm, a mobile communications technology company, are featured in particular. Some other satellite operators are also strengthening their presence such as SpaceX which provides high-speed communications through constellations in low Earth orbit using the Starlink satellite, and Intelsat which has been providing satellite communications services using GSO satellites.

(*2 [KDDI] -When you see the sky, you are connected everywhere)
(*3 [Via Satellite] Satellite-to-Cell Partnerships, Tech, and Regulatory Issues Take Center Stage)

This is supported by the fact that several satellite operators, ranging from satellite communications giants to new start-ups have announced collaborations with mobile operators, and this trend is expected to accelerate in the future.

Rakuten Mobile, a Rakuten Group company, also plans to deploy direct communication with mobile devices through collaboration with AST SpaceMobile.
Trends in the “Satellite Direct-to-Cell” market as of March 2023 (*12: modified from the author’s creation)

These satellite and terrestrial mobile communication markets are summarized in previous Warpspace articles (*12,13). Please also find the link below.

(*4 [CNBC] Iridium, Qualcomm end satellite-to-phone partnership)
(*5 [Fierce Wireless] Lynk Global moves closer to reality with BICS deal)
(*6 [T-mobile] First SpaceX Satellites Launch for Breakthrough Direct to Cell Service with T-Mobile)
(*7 [Salt] First SpaceX Satellites with Direct-to-Cell Capabilities Launched, Paving the Way for Satellite-Powered Phone Connections for Salt Subscribers in Switzerland)
(*8 [KDDI] SpaceX successfully launched the first satellite capable of direct communication with smartphones)
(*9 [ADVANCED TELEVISION] Globalstar gaining from Apple deal)
(*10 [Inmarsat] Viasat Completes Acquisition of Inmarsat)
(*11 [Rakuten Mobile] Rakuten Mobile and AST SpaceMobile announced a plan to provide domestic services through direct communication between a satellite and a cell phone by the end of 2026)
(*12 [SATELLITE 2023] New developments in the communications satellite industry seen at one of the largest conferences in the U.S.)
(*13 [WSBW 2023] New Space’s unstoppable march, and new developments in the satellite communications business surrounding MEO)

(Author: Junichiro Nakazawa, Translation: Natsumi Kawaguchi)



Warpspace Inc.

Warpspace develops “WarpHub InterSat”, an optical inter-satellite data relay service. We will realize this service for LEO Sat operators by 2025.