Musk’s SpaceX and T-Mobile plan to connect mobile phones to satellites and increase cell coverage

Musk's SpaceX and T-Mobile plan to connect mobile phones to satellites and increase cell coverage
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August 25 (Reuters) – US wireless carrier T-Mobile US Inc. (TMUS.O) will use SpaceX’s Starlink satellites, owned by Elon Musk, to provide mobile users with network access in parts of the United States, the companies announced Thursday, outlining plans to connect users’ mobile phones directly to the satellites in orbit.

The new plans, which would exist alongside T-mobile’s existing cellular services, would eliminate the need for cell towers and offer a service for sending texts and pictures where cell coverage currently doesn’t exist, key for emergency situations in remote areas, Musk said. at a flashy event Thursday at his company’s South Texas rocket facility.

Starlink’s satellites will use T-Mobile’s mid-band spectrum to create a new network. Most phones used by the company’s customers will be compatible with the new service, which will start with text messaging services in a beta phase starting late next year.

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SpaceX has launched nearly 3,000 Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit since 2019, easily beating rivals OneWeb and Inc. (AMZN.O) Kuiper project.

SpaceX’s next-generation Starlink satellites, the first of which is planned to launch on SpaceX’s next-generation Starship rocket when fully developed, will have larger antennas that will allow connectivity directly to mobile phones on the T-mobile network. Musk said.

“We are building special antennas… They are actually very large antennas that are extremely advanced,” he said. “The important thing is that you won’t need to buy a new phone. The phone you currently have will work.”

Meanwhile, US telcos are in a race to build out the midband portion of their 5G networks to catch up with T-Mobile, which snapped up a chunky 2.5GHz midband spectrum thanks to the purchase of its rival Sprint.

Mid-band or C-band has proven to be perfect for 5G as it provides a good balance between capacity and coverage.

The operator said it aims to seek voice and data coverage after the beta phase of text messaging services.

Satellite communications company AST SpaceMobile Inc. (ASTS.O) it is also building a global cellular broadband network in space that will work with mobile devices without the need for additional hardware.

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Reporting by Joey Roulette in Washington, Akash Sriram and Eva Mathews in Bangalore; Edited by Rosalba O’Brien and Leslie Adler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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