T-Mobile and SpaceX have announced a new service, offering satellite-to-cellular in the US.
The technology will take advantage of SpaceX’s second-generation Starlink satellites and T-Mobile’s 5G spectrum to offer “near complete coverage” in the United States.
The idea is to say goodbye to ‘dead zones’ and ensure customers stay connected, especially in emergency situations. The pair say that they hope to offer a similar service in other markets in the coming years, partnering with international carriers.
What’s particularly interesting is that T-Mobile has confirmed the “vast majority of smartphones” will be able to access the feature. Apple had previously worked on its own SOS satellite technology to include in a future iPhone, but this appears a universal alternative.
The technology is made possible thanks to Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit, which work with Mobile’s mid-band 5G spectrum without requiring any additional hardware. The company says that it will be able to offer “nearly complete coverage almost anywhere a customer can see the sky”, though it won’t offer faster cell speeds than current 5G capabilities. Instead, it’s more likely to serve as a basic connection so users can send texts and make calls.
The service is expected to launch in beta late next year in select parts of the United States, but the two companies say that it will eventually cover most areas of the continental U.S as well as Hawaii, Alaska, and the U.S. territorial waters. It will be offered on T-Mobile’s “most popular plans” at no additional charge.
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