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Inexpensive smallsats are replacing large satellites, presenting a challenge to existing manufacturers.   © Mitsubishi Electric/ Kyodo
Business Spotlight

Asia's mobile revolution puts satellite makers into spin

Low-cost innovation helps Rakuten and other newcomers take on established players

MITSURU OBE, Nikkei staff writer | Singapore

SINGAPORE -- When Japan's Rakuten announced this week that it had acquired a stake in AST & Science, the Texas-based outfit building the world's first space-based mobile broadband network, it brought home a new reality: the satellite revolution is coming.

Designed to connect regular smartphones to satellite internet for the first time, the two companies said the SpaceMobile network would initially offer a 4G connection, with plans to deliver 5G services.

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