Advanced Television

Musk downplays satellite-to-phone service

January 4, 2024

By Chris Forrester

Elon Musk, speaking following the launch on January 2nd of a batch of Starlink satellites which included six specially equipped craft with ‘direct-to-smartphone’ capability, noted that the deployment allowed for mobile phone connectivity anywhere on Earth.

However, he added: “[the deployment] only supports about 7Mb per beam and the beams are very big, so while this is a great solution for locations with no cellular connectivity, it is not meaningfully competitive with existing terrestrial [services].”

SpaceX itself added: “The six Starlink satellites on this mission with Direct to Cell capability will further global connectivity and help to eliminate dead zones.”

“Direct to Cell 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,” continued SpaceX. “On orbit the satellites will immediately connect over laser backhaul to the Starlink constellation to provide global connectivity.”

SpaceX has signed terrestrial partnerships with:
· T-Mobile (US)
· Optus (Australia)
· Rogers (Canada)
· One NZ (New Zealand)
· KDDI (Japan)
· SALT (Switzerland)
· Entel (Chile)

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