SpaceX partners with One New Zealand for Starlink cell coverage

SpaceX has found its second partner for their upcoming Starlink enabled satellite-to-cellular service. New Zealand’s telecommunications company, One NZ (formerly known as Vodafone), has announced it has signed an agreement with SpaceX to offer mobile coverage across the country, eliminating cellular dead zones.

One NZ’s mobile service currently relies on cellphone towers and covers 98% of populated areas, but only just over half of the country’s land mass. With the Starlink agreement, One NZ customers will be able to use their smartphones to connect via satellite in areas that lack cellular coverage. (via Stuff)

Initially, the satellite service will only allow text messages, including multimedia texts, but it will later expand to support voice calls and mobile broadband. The text service will be available to One NZ customers, and once the voice service is available, it will be open to everyone. The service will not require new smartphones or extra equipment. One NZ has yet to decide on pricing and marketing the service.

The company says the new service will be available in late 2024, and it will offer coverage to all areas, including those on boats, mountains, remote roads, and farms.

One NZ’s initiative aims to address the mobile communication issues experienced during Cyclone Gabrielle, which temporarily knocked out mobile connectivity in February. One NZ will allow any mobile user, including Spark and 2degrees customers, to roam on its Starlink service and send emergency messages in the event of a similar disaster.

SpaceX is expected to begin its first tests of the Starlink enabled satellite-to-cellular service later this year. Those tests will presumably be conducted with T-Mobile, who partnered with SpaceX last year to eventually launch ‘Coverage Above and Beyond’ across the US.

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