Elon Musk’s SpaceX, on Tuesday, launched the first set of Starlink satellites with the capability to beam signals directly to smartphones from space. Of the 21 Starlink satellites carried into orbit by a Falcon 9 rocket, six have the Direct To Cell capabilities, SpaceX said.
The venture aims to utilise Mr Musk’s Starlink satellites to provide network access to mobile users, initially in parts of the United States. This partnership with T-Mobile, announced in August 2022, recently received approval from the US Federal Communications Commission for a 180-day testing period. The Starlink satellites are set to act as “cell phone towers in space,” according to information available on the Starlink website.
During the testing phase, a total of 840 satellites will be engaged in transmitting 4G connectivity to around 2,000 unmodified smartphones. While texting services are expected to become available this year, voice and data services, as well as connectivity for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, are projected to commence in 2025, pending regulatory approvals for commercial service, as per the report by Tech Crunch.