You might remember that back in 2022, T-Mobile and SpaceX joined forces to announce direct-to-cell satellite connectivity to regular, unmodified cellphones via a network of Starlink satellites. As per a new report, SpaceX is ramping up its launch schedule to get as many satellites as possible up and operational this and next year. This should include an attempt to do 100 flights in the next two-and-a-half months. And in 2024, the schedule is even more ambitious, with 12 flights per month, or a total of 144 missions for the year.
A SpaceX spokesperson told Ars Technica, « We’re also going to look at direct-to-cell communications with Starlink, and that’s a key feature that gets added next year with those 144 flights. »
Just to clear a few things up, as previously promised, 2024 should see the initial public launch on the text direct-to-cell service only. The full-speed version of the satellite LTE service with speeds of up to 2Mbps is planned for an initial release in 2025. As per the Ars Technica report, the latter capabilities require physically larger satellites that will be launched on board the SpaceX Starship vehicle. In the meantime, the company had to design « intermediate » sized units that are still bigger than older models but can fly on Falcon 9 rockets.
T-Mobile’s « most popular » plans (Likely T-Mobile’s Magenta MAX) will be eligible to access the Starlink connection for no additional fee, while customers on cheaper plans can pay an extra fee for access. But Starlink also already has deals with multiple other carriers around the world: Optus in Australia, Rogers in Canada, KDDI in Japan, One NZ in New Zealand, and Salt in Switzerland. However, the only launch timeline we currently have is from T-Mobile in the US.
Finally, it might also be worth mentioning that Starlink only aims to cover land, lakes and coastal waters – if you want Internet in the middle of the ocean, you will need to sign up for Starlink’s maritime service. On land, this will fill in gaps in the carriers’ coverage without them having to build out more infrastructure. There are still plenty of other unanswered questions regarding the service and its coverage, too, like roaming.
Source | Via