SpaceX has unveiled a new page on the Starlink website for its latest project – “Starlink Direct to Cell,” aimed at providing seamless access to text, voice, and data for LTE phones across the globe.
The “Starlink Direct to Cell” website, introduced with the tagline “Seamless access to text, voice, and data for LTE phones across the globe,” is set to harness SpaceX’s rapidly expanding Starlink satellite network to enable cellular connectivity directly to smartphones.
Originally scheduled for launch later this year in collaboration with T-Mobile, the new website reveals that SpaceX is now targeting next year to power satellite-based text messaging and aims to offer voice and text capabilities by 2025. Additionally, cellular connectivity for Internet of Things (IoT) devices is also scheduled to debut in 2025.
To enhance the service further, SpaceX plans to equip its satellites with an “advanced eNodeB modem,” effectively transforming Starlink satellites into “cellphone towers in space” and enabling network integration similar to standard roaming partners without the need for upgraded technology.
The new website also lists all of the partners that have signed on with SpaceX to offer this satellite-to-cell service, highlighting that all users on these networks will have access to the service in all regions where it is offered.
This service from Starlink will directly compete with Apple’s own satellite-based Emergency SOS feature for iPhones and AST Space Mobile’s efforts to provide cellular satellite service to unmodified smartphones in the near future. SpaceX’s Direct to Cell service distinguishes itself by not requiring any hardware changes, firmware updates, or special apps, making it a truly hassle-free solution for users with LTE smartphones.
However, before it can launch the service officially, SpaceX must secure clearance from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Earlier this month SpaceX requested permission from the FCC to launch and test this satellite-to-cellular connectivity with T-Mobile, their first partner in the project.