Musk’s SpaceX and T-Mobile Plan to Connect Cell Phones to Satellites and Increase Cell Coverage

Aug 25 (Reuters) – U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS.O) The companies announced Thursday that they will use Elon Musk-owned SpaceX’s Starlink satellites to provide network access to mobile users in parts of the United States, outlining plans to connect users’ mobile phones directly to satellites in orbit.

Musk said the new plans, which will sit alongside T-Mobile’s existing cellular services, will reduce the need for cell towers and provide service for sending texts and pictures, especially for emergency situations in remote areas where there is no cell coverage. Thursday was a bright event at his company’s South Texas rocket facility.

Starling’s satellites will use T-Mobile’s mid-band spectrum to build the new network. Most of the phones used by the company’s customers will be compatible with the new service, which will launch with text messaging services in a beta phase by the end of next year.

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SpaceX has launched nearly 3,000 low-Earth-orbiting Starlink satellites since 2019, more than rivals OneWeb and Inc. (AMZN.O) Project Kuiper.

SpaceX’s next-generation Starlink satellites, scheduled to launch whenever SpaceX’s next-generation Starship rocket is fully built, will have larger antennas that will allow mobile phones to connect directly to the T-Mobile network, Musk said.

“We’re building special antennas. They’re really advanced antennas,” he said. “The important thing is that you don’t need to get a new phone. The phone you currently have will work.”

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Meanwhile, US telcos are racing to build the mid-band portion of their 5G networks to catch up with T-Mobile.

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

The carrier said it aims to continue voice and data coverage after the SMS services beta phase.

Satellite communications company AST SpaceMobile Inc (ASTS.O) Creating 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 Rowlett in Washington, Akash Sriram and Eva Mathews in Bangalore; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Leslie Adler

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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