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First Batch of Starlink Satellites for Direct-to-Cell Service Launched by SpaceX
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First Batch of Starlink Satellites for Direct-to-Cell Service Launched by SpaceX
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jan 04, 2024

In a significant leap for mobile connectivity, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket has successfully launched the first set of Starlink satellites equipped with Direct to Cell capabilities, as reported by T-Mobile. This launch, part of the livestreamed event last night, marks a pivotal step in the Coverage Above and Beyond initiative, a joint venture between T-Mobile and SpaceX. This ambitious project aims to provide unprecedented connectivity across the U.S., targeting areas previously plagued by inadequate cell coverage, also known as dead zones.

Mike Katz, President of Marketing, Strategy, and Products at T-Mobile, expressed the significance of this milestone, "Our mission is to be the best in the world at connecting customers to their world, and today is another step forward in keeping our customers connected even in the most remote locations for added peace of mind when they need it most." Katz's statement underscores T-Mobile's commitment to enhancing customer connectivity, especially in remote areas.

The newly launched satellites, now in low-Earth orbit, pave the way for field testing of a service designed to integrate SpaceX's satellite capabilities with T-Mobile's leading wireless network. This innovative approach is poised to tackle the challenge of over half a million square miles of U.S. territory and vast oceanic stretches currently beyond the reach of terrestrial network coverage. The service aims to eliminate the need for expensive satellite phones by enabling connectivity in almost any location with a clear view of the sky, using customers' existing phones.

In terms of service rollout, T-Mobile has announced that the initial phase will focus on text messaging, with plans to expand to voice and data coverage in subsequent years. Dr. Sara Spangelo, Sr. Director of Satellite Engineering at SpaceX, shared her enthusiasm, "The launch of these first Direct to Cell satellites is an exciting milestone for SpaceX to demonstrate our technology. We look forward to rapidly scaling up Direct to Cell with our partner operators around the world and rolling out messaging service for T-Mobile customers!"

The Coverage Above and Beyond initiative is not just a national endeavor. T-Mobile and SpaceX have extended an open invitation to wireless providers globally to collaborate on this groundbreaking technology, aiming for universal coverage. As of this launch, notable international partners include KDDI in Japan, Optus in Australia, One NZ in New Zealand, Rogers in Canada, among others. The partnership stands open for any carrier aligned with the vision of global connectivity.

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