SpaceX and T-Mobile to launch direct satellite internet for phones

Direct satellite internet for smartphones is finally happening. T-Mobile and SpaceX through Starlink announced a new initiative called Coverage Above & Beyond. It intends to eliminate mobile dead-zones currently present with traditional wireless ground networks such as with cellular sites. The service is planned to arrive late next year and could come free with most T-Mobile plans in the US.

TL;DR

  • T-Mobile and Starlink announce a new satellite internet connectivity to cover dead zones.
  • Starlink will tap T-Mobile’s current mid-band 5G spectrum.
  • The Coverage Above & Beyond will launch in late 2023 starting with basic messaging services.

It was previously reported that Starlink has been seeking approval from FCC for a usable mobile satellite spectrum. But that seems temporarily on the wayside now as SpaceX is officially tapping T-Mobile for a portion of its current mid-band 5G spectrum in the US.

How SpaceX will enable mobile satellite internet for phones

SpaceX needs to launch new Starlink satellites before this will work. These second-generation artificial orbiters will have advanced technologies and larger antennas beaming signals down to the earth. More importantly, it removes the need for additional components on the mobile handset or bulky receivers on the user’s end to enable satellite connectivity.

SpaceX and T-Mobile launched mobile satellite internet
SpaceX plans to launch Starlink V2 with larger antennas / © Youtube/u/t-mobile

While the bandwidth will have a limited speed between 2 to 4 Mbps at the start, it will still be able to provide critical and lifesaving solutions in far-flung areas, especially where cellular signals are absent. T-Mobile says existing phones supported by the spectrum will be able to send or receive SMS, MMS, and messaging apps. But it is mentioned that these be expanded to cover voice and data in the future.

iPhone 14 and Watch Series 8’s satellite internet

On the other hand, Apple is rumored to launch the iPhone 14 and Watch Series 8 with satellite connectivity. However, it’s not clear how the Cupertino company plans to implement the technology in its upcoming devices. Presumably, they could potentially utilize a dedicated satellite provider like SpaceX’s Starlink. Regardless, Apple clearly has a common goal with these companies and that’s to take advantage of satellite internet in emergency situations.

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