T-Mobile Teams with SpaceX for Satellite Coverage Using Existing Phones
Updated: Added detail on the specific frequency band involved.
T-Mobile and SpaceX today announced a partnership to provide 100% coverage across the US and "vast" parts of oceans using SpaceX's next generation of Starlink satellites, which will be able to connect directly to existing cell phones. The service will use a dedicated "small slice" of the PCS band (the G block of band 25, which is 1910–1915 MHz for uplink and 1990–1995 MHz for downlink). The initial service will be limited to text messaging, MMS, and select third-party messaging apps. A beta version of the service is expected to be available late next year. Eventually, T-Mobile hopes to expand the service to general data as well as voice. The technology is enabled by new, much larger phased-array antennas that will be included on upcoming Starlink 2.0 satellites that could start launching by the end of this year. Current SpaceX lab tests show the service able to offer "2–4 Mbit per cell zone." T-Mobile plans to offer the service for free on its "most popular" plans, and for a small fee on lower plans. T-Mobile expressed interest in offering "reciprocal" roaming with other carriers, and SpaceX expressed interest in offering the service to other carriers around the world. AST SpaceMobile is working to launch its own new satellites that will provide a similar service. SpaceX is also launching AST's satellites.
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