Image source: Euronews
Last week, SpaceX founder Elon Musk and T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert announced they were collaborating on a new project.
On Thursday night, Musk and Stievart appeared at a webcast event at SpaceX’s starbase in South Texas.
The two companies are working on a project called “Coverage Above and Beyond,” which aims to bring smartphone connectivity to T-Mobile customers anywhere.
The service they offer is provided in areas without cellular coverage, especially in emergencies.
Above and Beyond coverage is set to launch in 2023, with T-Mobile using its midband spectrum to build a new network.
According to Sievert, the service will work with most phones and will prioritize the first launch of the SMS service.
“I think this is really a massive game changer,” said Musk. “In a nutshell, it’s no more dead zones.”
SpaceX and T-Mobile released a press release stating that the new plan will provide “provide near complete coverage in most places in the US — even in many of the most remote locations previously unreachable by traditional cell signals.”
“We’ve always thought differently about what it means to keep customers connected, and that’s why we’re working with the best to deliver coverage above and beyond anything customers have ever seen before,” said Mike Sievert.
“More than just a groundbreaking alliance, this represents two industry-shaking innovators challenging the old ways of doing things to create something entirely new that will further connect customers and scare competitors.”
Elon Musk joined in, saying:
“The important thing about this is that it means there are no dead zones anywhere in the world for your cell phone. We’re incredibly excited to do this with T-Mobile.”
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Despite the seriousness of their partnership, Starlink’s coverage is not intended to replace the tower’s service.
Instead, it provides basic coverage for areas with little or no signal.
Above and Beyond coverage provides two to four megabits per “cellular area”.
This means they can receive 1,000 to 2,000 voicemail messages at a time or hundreds of thousands of text messages at the same time.
Due to the services, it will take some time for online games or video chat to be available in the near future.
However, Elon Musk and Mike Sievert are confident that the project will grow and expand Starlink’s direct telephone service internationally.
Despite the two companies’ announcement, they are not the only players in the game to use satellites to communicate with cell phones on the existing mobile spectrum.
A company called AST SpaceMobile has promised to bring broadband to phones from outer space.
Meanwhile another company, Lynk Global, has shown that its satellite “cell towers” can be used to send text messages from regular phones.
Despite the competition, Lynk and SpaceMobile are eagerly awaiting their competition.
“We love the validation and the attention that this is bringing to this technology,” said Charles Miller, CEO of Lynk.
“We’ve been getting all kinds of calls of carriers today who are like ‘Help us!’”
Lynk and SpaceX share the same goal: to partner with providers around the world so they can send messages on the satellite networks they are currently building.
Miller stressed the importance of technology during emergencies such as natural disasters that can destroy traditional cellular networks, namely hurricanes, fires, floods and earthquakes.
“It’s resilience,” said Miller. “It’s instant backup working for everybody on Earth. Your phones, even though the towns are down, can communicate.”
“This will save lives.”
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With two of the biggest players in the industry working together, Charles Miller has no worries.
According to Miller, Lynk was ahead of the market and said it was the first company to send text messages from space to an unmodified phone.
“We think there’s going to be more big companies jumping in.They have years and years to go. They’re years behind us,” Miller said.
“We’re going to be like, ‘Wonderful! Educate the world that this technology is done.’ And when we start rolling it out at the end of this year, people are going to go, ‘I want it.’ They’re not going to want to wait years for it.”
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Satellite-to-phone companies are thrilled about SpaceX and T-Mobile, actually