Advanced Television

Vodafone rules out Starlink D2D

January 9, 2024

Vodafone says it will not support Starlink with the satellite operator’s plans for orbiting ‘direct-to-device’ and cellular connectivity. Starlink last week orbited an initial six satellites capable of direct connection and plans to launch more than 800 extra satellites during 2024.

Vodafone has ruled out a partnership with Starlink because it has already signed an exclusive contract with the Amazon-backed Project Kuiper for mobile backhaul services.

Vodafone also has a partnership in place with AST SpaceMobile which has a satellite in orbit (BlueWalker 3) and has carried out voice and data tests using the satellite. The tests, in September last year, used an unmodified Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone and intends using the technology to serve “millions of people across Europe and Africa”.

Vodafone adds that in its view satellite will only act as backup for terrestrial networks and for emergency communications, not provide primary coverage.

Vodafone signed its Kuiper “strategic cooperation” agreement in September 2023 saying that Vodafone and Vodacom plan to use Project Kuiper’s network to extend the reach of 4G/5G services to more of their customers in Europe and Africa.

As part of the collaboration, Amazon plans to partner with Vodafone to roll out Project Kuiper’s high-speed broadband services to unserved and underserved communities around the world. The companies are also exploring additional enterprise-specific offerings to provide businesses with comprehensive global connectivity solutions, such as backup service for unexpected events and extending connectivity to remote infrastructure.

In September 2023, Margherita Della Valle, Vodafone Group Chief Executive, said: “Vodafone’s work with Project Kuiper will provide mobile connectivity to many of the estimated 40 percent of the global population without internet access, supporting remote communities, their schools and businesses, the emergency services, and disaster relief. These connections will be complemented further through our own work on direct-to-smartphone satellite services”.

Project Kuiper will start Beta services this coming winter.

Categories: Blogs, Broadband, Inside Satellite, Mobile, Satellite

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