Starlink direct-to-cell could be on track to launch next year
Last year, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and a major US telecom carrier T-Mobile announced joining forces to launch direct-to-cell satellite connectivity to unmodified and regular cell phones soon. It seems like SpaceX is inching closer to this ambitious plan using a new fleet of Starlink satellites. It will attempt to fly as many as 100 flights by the end of this year followed by 12 flights per month next year to achieve the satellite constellation required for better direct-to-cell satellite connectivity.
As per what’s being planned, SpaceX will fly 100 flights in the next two and half months carrying satellites in its constellation. In 2024, SpaceX will fly 12 flights per month totaling 144 flights during that year to achieve better connectivity and coverage on the ground including land, seas, and coastal waters. Oceans are not covered as that’s where Starlink’s maritime services can be used to avail cellular services.
As of now, 2024 appears to be the year when SpaceX and T-Mobile will launch a text-only direct-to-cell service. It plans on launching LTE services with data speeds of up to 2Mbps with a cue to launch in early 2025 along with voice services although we don’t have a fixed date at the moment.
Allowing users to communicate via voice or data requires larger satellites up in space. Although the satellites that SpaceX will station for cellular connectivity are bigger than the old moments, they are still smaller than the ones required as they have to fit in Falcon 9 rockets that’ll be used to launch them.
T-Mobile partnered with Starlink to give its users access to satellite services once it is launched. It will be a part of the Magenta MAX plan where users will get access with no additional fee and those with cheaper plans will have to pay extra to get access. Starlink has struck deals with KDDI in Japan, Rogers in Canada, One NZ in New Zealand, Salt in Switzerland, and Optus in Australia. However, none of the telecom carriers have revealed any timelines except T-Mobile in the US.
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