Advanced Television

Starlink readies ‘Direct-to-Cellular’

October 3, 2023

By Chris Forrester

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has licensed Elon Musk’s Starlink service to test a ‘Direct-to-device’ service. SpaceX will launch the first of a new batch of enabled satellites in December which when fully established will permit users to make calls via Starlink.

Apple and Globalstar already have a similar service running, while Omnispace is planning a global system for direct-to-device 5G-type service. Omispace believes that in 4-8 years time such services will be commonplace with 1 billion or more devices connected.

The FCC issued its formal Public Notice on September 13th and listing a number of teleport Earth stations and their frequencies to be used initially for test purposes.

SpaceX had requested a Special Temporary Authority (STA) for a 60-day period starting on December 1 to launch and test its Generation 2 Starlink satellites into their low Earth orbiting positions and equipped with “direct to cellular” communications payloads to connect unmodified cellular phones directly to SpaceX Gen 2 craft.

The temporary STA is designed to be followed by a permanent licence.

SpaceX is already authorised to launch 7,500 satellites under the FCC’s order.

The STA grants permission to SpaceX and in conjunction with T-Mobile and its subsidiaries. SpaceX and T-Mobile already have a spectrum manager lease agreement in place.

The test stations are located in Columbus, Ohio; Virginia Beach, VA; Los Angeles; Houston, TX; San Diego, Calif; Mountain View, Calif; Kansas City, KS; Dallas, TX; Bethel, OK; Redmond, WA; Reston, WA; Miami, FL; Austin, TX.

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