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Elon Musk and T-Mobile say 5G phones could connect to satellites next year

·2-min read
Elon Musk and T-Mobile say 5G phones could connect to satellites next year

Elon Musk and US wireless carrier T-Mobile have said SpaceX’s Starlink satellites will begin providing internet services to mobile users in parts of the country starting next year.

The Tesla titan said on Thursday that users’ mobiles will directly connect to Starlink satellites in orbit and offer connectivity services to areas where cell coverage currently does not exist.

“Starlink V2, launching next year, will transmit direct to mobile phones, eliminating dead zones worldwide,” Mr Musk tweeted.

Such dead zones pose serious consequences for remote communities and people travelling off the grid for work or leisure, SpaceX explained in a blog post.

The company said the service will provide a range of applications, including for hikers in national parks, rural communities, remote sensors and devices and for those in emergency situations, such as firefighters.

In such areas, people are left disconnected or dependent on a satellite phone, paying exorbitant rates, the company said.

The new plan with T-Mobile will be the first step towards global direct-to-cell connectivity, SpaceX said, adding that it is expected to enable texting and voice calls.

The two companies are planning to offer customers text coverage “practically everywhere” in the US, including Hawaii, parts of Alaska, Puerto Rico and territorial waters.

“Note, connectivity will be 2 to 4 Mbits per cell zone, so will work great for texting & voice calls, but not high bandwidth,” Mr Musk pointed out in a tweet.

The service is expected to be offered in a few areas by end of next year, following SpaceX’s planned satellite launches.

“This service will have a tremendous impact on the safety, peace of mind, and individual and business opportunities around the globe,” SpaceX further added.

The company said the service can be used without any modifications required to cell phones used today.

No new firmware, software updates or apps are needed, it stated.