The team are working to provide some degree of cellular service “practically everywhere in the continental U.S., Hawaii, parts of Alaska, Puerto Rico and territorial waters”, according to Musk and Sievert.
“The important thing about this is that it means there are no dead zones anywhere in the world for your cell phone,” said Elon Musk. “We’re incredibly excited to do this with T-Mobile.”
Despite powerful 5G and Long-Term Evolution (LTE) wireless networks, over 500,000 square miles of the US, as well as large stretches of ocean, receive absolutely no signal from any provider. Multiple wireless coverage providers have struggled to find a solution for these dead zones. However, terrain limits like deserts and mountains across the US as well as land-use restrictions such as national parks make this an incredibly difficult task.
To remedy the problem, the two companies are building a new network that will broadcast nationwide from Starlink’s satellites using T-Mobile’s mid-band spectrum. This satellite-to-cellular service will offer near to complete coverage practically anywhere users can see the sky.
“It’s going to massively improve people’s convenience and it’s going to save lives,” commented Elon Musk.
Using this technology, the pair plan to bring text coverage to customers across all corners of the continental US, Hawaii, parts of Alaska, Puerto Rico and territorial waters. Following more satellite launches from SpaceX over the next year, coverage will be brought to even more areas outside of T-Mobile’s coverage/signal network.
“We’ve always thought differently about what it means to keep customers connected, and that’s why we’re working with the best to deliver coverage above and beyond anything customers have ever seen before,” commented Mike Sievert. “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.”
This project will rely on Starlink’s next-generation satellites, planned to launch on SpaceX’s Starship rocket. These satellites will have large antennae to directly provide connectivity to phones on the T-Mobile network. Users won’t need to make any additional purchases to access this new service. Conveniently, the majority of smartphones on T-Mobile’s network will already be compatible with the network.
"We are constructing special antenna. They are actually very big antenna that are extremely advanced," said Musk. "The important thing is you will not need to get a new phone. The phone you currently have will work."
With other exciting companies like Aquarian Space working to develop communication networks for interplanetary exploration – including high speed internet on the moon – this marks the beginning of a very exciting time for the space sector. With capabilities like these, we’ll be connected like never before with people in the most remote corners of the world, and maybe one day the universe.
These two industry giants are paving the way for global connectivity with a shared vision to empower the world. Could SpaceX and T-Mobile’s partnership signal the end of cellular dead zones?
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