Mobile phones will connect to SpaceX’s new Starlink satellites next year, providing around 2 to 4 Megabits per second connection (total) across a given coverage area, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert and Tesla CEO Elon Musk have announced.
To provide this service, the companies will create a new network, broadcast from Starlink’s satellites using T-Mobile’s mid-band spectrum nationwide.
This satellite-to-cellular service will provide nearly complete coverage almost anywhere a customer can see the sky, US telecom carrier T-Mobile said in a statement late on Thursday.
This will help people text, send MMS messages, and even use “select messaging apps” whenever they have a clear view of the sky.
The service is scheduled to launch in beta by the end of next year in “select areas”.
“More than just a groundbreaking alliance, this represents two industry-shaking innovators challenging the old ways of doing things to create something entirely new that will further connect customers and scare competitors,” said Sievert.
According to Musk, Starlink V2, launching next year, “will transmit directly to mobile phones, eliminating dead zones worldwide”.
“Note, connectivity will be 2 to 4 Mbits per cell zone, so will work great for texting and voice calls, but not high bandwidth,” he tweeted.
Musk said that Tesla will also use the new technology for the premium connectivity feature in its electric vehicles.
Leveraging Starlink, SpaceX’s constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit, and T-Mobile’s industry-leading wireless network, the carrier plans to provide near complete coverage in most places in the US, even in many of the most remote locations previously unreachable by traditional cell signals.
“From the middle of Death Valley to the Great Smokey Mountains or even that persistent neighbourhood dead zone, T-Mobile and SpaceX have a vision to give customers a crucial additional layer of connectivity in areas previously unreachable by cell signals from any provider,” said the company.
The vast majority of smartphones already on T-Mobile’s network will be compatible with the new service using the device’s existing radio.
“The important thing about this is that it means there are no dead zones anywhere in the world for your cell phone,” said Musk.
In addition, the CEOs shared their vision for expanding ‘Coverage Above and Beyond’ globally, issuing an open invitation to the world’s carriers to collaborate for truly global connectivity.