SpaceX requests FCC permission to launch and test satellite-to-cellular connectivity with T-Mobile

SpaceX has requested permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch its direct-to-cellular-enabled satellites and test connecting to cell phones directly from space. The tests will be conducted with T-Mobile, who last year announced it was partnering with SpaceX to launch a satellite-to-cell service ‘Above & Beyond.’

According to the application, SpaceX has requested 60 days of “Special Temporary Authority” (STA), starting December 1, 2023, to launch and test their second-generation Gen2 satellites’ capability to connect regular cellphones. SpaceX says it will conduct device-to-device (D2D) service testing over the T-Mobile’s 1910-1915 MHz and 1990-1995 MHz bands, designated as the PCS G Block.

The application states the satellites will “specific terrestrial test locations, which the company includes a list of in one of the attached exhibits. Based on a review of those locations by @Megaconstellati on X, 26 test sites are listed in the application. Nine are located on the west coast, eight in the central US, and nine in the eastern half of the country.

There are some notable locations among these like Apple’s Design Center in San Diego and Google’s Googleplex in Mountain View, California.

The concept of directly connecting cell phones to a low Earth orbit satellite will end dead zones by providing reliable and high-quality connectivity even in the most remote areas. SpaceX has so far partnered with T-Mobile in the US, One NZ in New Zealand, and KKDI in Japan for this service, as well as Rogers in Canada.

In April Rogers announced it will use Starlink low-earth orbit satellites to initially provide emergency services via text services, with plans to add voice and data coverage in the future.

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