With Starlink, SpaceX has already revolutionized the world's internet, thanks to its satellites in low Earth orbit. In areas that are not covered by traditional infrastructure, these satellites provide a good connection with low latency. But Elon Musk's company wants to go further, by offering a direct connection of its satellites with smartphones.
A direct Starlink connection to smartphone
Indeed, currently, to use Starlink, SpaceX customers must purchase an antenna that they attach to their homes, boats or even a camper van. The “Direct to cell” service currently being developed would allow you to connect via Starlink satellites from a smartphone, as if you were using a traditional 4G network.
And the project is progressing well, since SpaceX has just announced the launch of its first six satellites capable of connecting directly to smartphones. “This will enable mobile phone connectivity everywhere on Earth”, commented Elon Musk. However, he made a point of specifying that if these satellites provide a network in areas without cellular connectivity, they will not be able to compete with terrestrial infrastructure.
This will allow for mobile phone connectivity anywhere on Earth.
Note, this only supports ~7Mb per beam and the beams are very big, so while this is a great solution for locations with no cellular connectivity, it is not meaningfully competitive with existing terrestrial… https://t.co/ymHpw8XBHl
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 3, 2024
Launch in 2024
As a reminder, Starlink plans to launch its Direct to cell service, in collaboration with a list of telephone operators, from 2024. Initially, this service will only support communication via text message. However, starting in 2025, Starlink's mobile service is also expected to support voice calls, as well as mobile data. And SpaceX also plans to make this service compatible with connected objects.
If satellite communication services already exist, the particularity of the one that will be offered by Starlink is that It will work exactly like terrestrial infrastructure. As a result, it does not require any modification or special antenna on the smartphone. To be compatible with the Starlink service, a mobile must simply be compatible with 4G.
Towers in space
“Starlink satellites with Direct to Cell feature an advanced eNodeB modem that acts as a cell tower in space, enabling network integration similar to that of a standard roaming partner”, we can read on the Starlink website.
Currently, the operators who work with Starlink are T-Mobile in the United States, Optus in Australia, Rogers in Canada, One NZ in New Zealand, KDDI in Japan, Salt in Switzerland and Entel in Chile. “Cellular service providers using Direct to Cell have access to reciprocal global access in all partner countries”, Elon Musk's company also specifies.
- Starlink, SpaceX's satellite communications service, launches its first satellites capable of connecting directly to smartphones
- This new offer will be launched in 2024 for texting, and in 2025 for mobile calls and data
- These satellites act as mobile phone towers in space and hence no modifications are required on the smartphone& ;nbsp;: this one just needs to support 4G technology
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