SpaceX is getting ready to test its Starlink satellite-to-cell phone service
Elon Musk previously announced the feature would come to T-Mobile phones in 2023.
Last summer, Elon Musk and T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert announced "Coverage Above and Beyond," a joint initiative that aimed to bring Starlink satellite coverage compatible T-Mobile devices. Now, SpaceX is getting ready to begin testing its satellite-to-cellular service.
During a panel at the Satellite Conference and Exhibition 2023, SpaceX VP of Starlink enterprise sales Jonathan Hofeller said the company had plans to "start getting into testing" its satellite-to-cell service this year. "We're going to learn a lot by doing — not necessarily by overanalyzing — and getting out there, working with the telcos."
Hofeller: SpaceX plans to "start getting into testing" its Starlink satellite-to-cell service "this year."
— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) March 13, 2023
Hofeller didn't specifically say which Telco SpaceX was working with, but the timeline certainly lines up with Musk's original vision for the T-Mobile partnership. In August, he promised that Starlink V2 would launch in 2023 and would "transmit direct to mobile phones, eliminating dead zones worldwide." At the time T-Mobile said the service would give the carrier "near complete coverage" of most of the United States, specifically highlighting areas that are notoriously difficult to find a signal: National Parks, mountain ranges, deserts and other remote locations.
Either way, the panel seemed optimistic about the future of sat-to-cell technology. Lynk Global CEO Charles Miller said that satellite cellular service has the potential to be the "biggest category in satellite," and Iridium CEO Matt Desch sees cellular satellite service as just the beginning. "Satellite should connect everything everywhere," he said at the event, imagining the technology connecting to computers, vehicles and more.