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SpaceX Launches First Direct to Cell Service Satellites with T-Mobile

Jan. 3, 2024
With much of the U.S. and vast stretches of ocean unreachable by terrestrial coverage, the direct to cell service aims to give customers additional connectivity.

On January 3rd, T-Mobile announced that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched the first set of Starlink satellites with direct to cell capabilities with T-Mobile.

With the satellites in low-Earth orbit, field testing will begin on the new service that will leverage SpaceX’s constellation of satellites with direct to cell technology.

“Today’s launch is a pivotal moment for this groundbreaking alliance with SpaceX and our global partners around the world, as we work to make dead zones a thing of the past.” said Mike Katz, President of Marketing, Strategy and Products, T-Mobile.

With much of the U.S. and vast stretches of ocean unreachable by terrestrial coverage, the direct to cell service aims to give customers additional connectivity. 

According to T-Mobile, customers would be “connected nearly everywhere they can see the sky, and in most cases, with the phone they already have.”

Initially, the service will begin with text messaging, with voice and data coverage to follow.

“The launch of these first Direct to Cell satellites is an exciting milestone for SpaceX to demonstrate our technology," said Dr. Sara Spangelo, Sr. Director of Satellite Engineering.

In a press release, T-Mobile said last year the two companies issued an “open invitation to wireless providers worldwide” to expand with reciprocal roaming. As of today, five wireless providers are on board to launch direct to cell technology including KDDI (Japan), Optus (Australia), One NZ (New Zealand), Rogers (Canada) and others.

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ISE Staff