KDDI has announced a partnership with SpaceX to provide satellite cellular service using Starlink’s low earth orbit satellites. The company will use their own national wireless spectrum to expand cellular services to areas previously untouched by traditional networks.
KDDI, a Japanese telecommunications company, said on Wednesday it will leverage SpaceX’s Starlink satellites to amplify its cellular reach that will help connect areas that have been historically isolated due to geographical limitations, such as the many remote islands and vast mountainous regions across the country.
The partnership is slated to introduce SMS text services as the initial step, starting as early as 2024. At a later date, voice and data services will follow suit. The company also announced the service will work with almost all existing smartphones on the KDDI network.
SpaceX first announced plans to provide cellular connectivity with T-Mobile in the US last year. At the time Elon Musk invited other companies to join them, and while there were no immediate takers, KDDI is now the third company to sign a deal.
Earlier this year New Zealand’s telecommunications company, One NZ (formerly known as Vodafone), announced it has signed an agreement with SpaceX to offer mobile coverage across the country, eliminating cellular dead zones.