SpaceX already operates a network of low-orbiting satellites that provide internet access in remote areas, called Starlink. T-Mobile has now announced that regular phones on its network will use Starlink internet as a fallback for dead zones.
T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert and SpaceX Chief Engineer Elon Musk announced the partnership, which has the goal of supplanting T-Mobile’s cell service (provided by cell towers on the ground) with Starlink satellites orbiting in low Earth orbit. Starlink’s internet service is already a proven technology, though not without problems — including that it needs a ground-based dish antenna. T-Mobile is aiming for existing phones to use Starlink connections, without any modifications or extra antennas.
T-Mobile said in a press release, “from the middle of Death Valley to the Great Smokey Mountains or even that persistent neighborhood dead zone, T-Mobile and SpaceX have a vision to give customers a crucial additional layer of connectivity in areas previously unreachable by cell signals from any provider. And the service aims to work with the phone already in your pocket.” There will still be a few catches, though.
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