Elon Musk announces T-Mobile cell coverage of Starlink satellites

T-Mobile says it has eliminated mobile dead zones thanks to a new partnership with Starlink satellite internet, SpaceX, in Event Hosted by T-Mobile CEO Mike Seifert and Elon Musk.

According to Musk, Starlink 2nd generation satellites The service’s launch next year will be able to broadcast the service using a portion of T-Mobile’s mid-band 5G spectrum. Musk said the new satellites will have “big, big antennas” to enable the new communications, and that the plan is to launch the equipment with an upcoming Starship missile. The executives said they are seeking partnerships with mobile carriers around the world interested in mutual spectrum-sharing agreements so that their customers can link to SpaceX, and when T-Mobile customers come to other countries, they can also use those links.

Photo: SpaceX

The company says it will let you text, send MMS, and even use “select messaging apps” whenever you have a clear view of the sky, even if there’s no traditional service available. “If there aren’t too many people in the cell area, you should probably have a little video,” Musk said. As described by Seifert, messaging app operators will need to work with T-Mobile and Starlink for their services to recognize and work with the satellite’s connection once it is launched.

Musk further elaborated by saying that, unlike a regular internet service, it can operate without access to Starlink’s entire satellite constellation. By limiting it to certain messages and services, as well as only in places where there is no current cellular connection, it can use an intermittent connection while satellites pass within range for “basic” coverage.

The service will launch in beta next year, and Seifert says he hopes one day it will include data. When it launches, he says, T-Mobile’s “vision” is to include it for free in the carrier’s “most popular plans,” though he said today’s event isn’t an official announcement.

T-Mobile says subscribers’ existing phones will be able to tap into the network – without the need for special equipment. While rumors have been circulating that future iPhones will include satellite communications, possibly for emergency response purposes, that’s not the kind of technology T-Mobile is relying on here. As Elon Musk said in the ad: “The phone you currently have will work.”

Seifert also said that T-Mobile was “open” to the possibility of SpaceX using its network in the future, particularly in rural areas. While this is clearly a few steps ahead of what the two companies are offering now, it could help make expanding their network less expensive.

Earlier this year, SpaceX lost a bid for rural internet subsidies due to the cost of its equipment. But if it can undo existing T-Mobile equipment, which people in rural areas may already own, it may help its case with the FCC. Thursday’s presentation certainly hit the idea of ​​rural coverage, with videos of people in remote parks, mountains or grazing animals.

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