Advanced Television

SpaceX putting first D2D satellites into orbit

December 15, 2023

By Chris Forrester

A planned launch from Vandenburg Space Force Base of 21 Starlink satellites on February 15th 2024 will contain the first batch of Elon Musk’s ‘direct to cell’ craft.

Six of the 21 satellites are described as “trailblazers” and are equipped to handle direct to device communications including cellphones. The remining 15 craft are conventional Version 2 satellites.

“This launch will include the first six Starlink satellites with Direct to Cell capabilities that will enable mobile network operators around the world to provide seamless global access to texting, calling, and browsing wherever you may be on land, lakes, or coastal waters,” SpaceX wrote in its mission overview.

SpaceX is approved to carry out tests by the FCC and is partnering with T-Mobile to target areas without normal cellular coverage.

SpaceX has plans to launch 840 ‘cellular’ satellites, and 2,000 ‘test devices’.

The current SpaceX timeline states there will be text service starting in 2024, voice and data in 2025, and IoT service in 2025.

Once the network gets up and running, SpaceX says the service “works with existing LTE phones wherever you can see the sky. No changes to hardware, firmware, or special apps are required, providing seamless access to text, voice and data.”

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