SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert took to the stage at Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas on Thursday night to announce a major new partnership between the two companies
Billed as “technology alliance” that represents a “huge, giant leap forward,” Sievert announced ‘Coverage Above & Beyond’, a partnership with SpaceX that will see a Starlink enabled connection in coming to mobile phones in 2023.
This new technology won’t be limited to the latest and greatest phones either, with Sievert saying it will work with most existing phones already on the market.
Coverage Above & Beyond is intended to provide cellular service in areas without current coverage, which is estimated to be approximately 20% of the continental United States. Musk said the service will save lives, highlighting situations where people get lost while out hiking or encountering problems while in remote areas of the country, and that they will now be able to call emergency services with their current cell phone.
The rollout will be phased and start with a beta test involving text messaging, MMS and select messaging apps next year. The service will expand to phone calls and possibly video at a later date, however Musk explained connectivity will be around 2 to 4 MBits per cell zone, so the service will ideal for “texting and voice calls, but not high bandwidth.”
The beta testing will only start next year because new antennae will be added to Starlink V2 satellites to enable the connection with mobile devices, and those satellites are scheduled to launch in early 2023.
UPDATE 7:05pm PDT: Musk has confirmed on Twitter this service will be coming to Tesla cars in the future that are subscribed to Premium Connectivity.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 26, 2022
Exact details of how these satellite connection plans will be structured has not yet been determined. Sievert said his aspiration is that on their most popular plans the service will be included for free.
If you are on a low-cost plan there will be an additional monthly service fee, but it will be “far less than the monthly service fees charged by today’s satellite connectivity services,” Sievert explained.
Both Sievert and Musk hope the service won’t be limited to just T-Mobile, issuing a callout to other service providers to get in touch with SpaceX about adding it to their networks as well.
This is a developing story, check back for updates…
You can watch a replay of the live presentation from Starbase below.