SpaceX and T-Mobile send the first text messages from orbiting Starlink satellites

SpaceX sent and received its first text messages via T-Mobile using the D2D (direct-to-device) Starlink satellites it launched into orbit a week ago. announced. It appeared first August 2022the project aims to provide satellite Internet connectivity to regular cell phones so that T-Mobile customers can stay online even when they are in a dead zone on Earth.

T-Mobile said it aims to launch text services with T-Mobile to the public in 2024, and plans for voice, data and IoT (internet of things) in 2025. Globally, SpaceX partners with Rogers in Canada, Optus in Australia, KDDI. Japan etc.

This scheme requires larger, specialized versions of Starlink satellites with D2D capability. SpaceX launched the first six of these on January 2 and completed the first tests without any problems. “On Monday, January 8, less than 6 days after launch, we used the TMMobile network spectrum to send and receive our first text messages to and from our new satellites in space to and from unmodified cell phones on the ground… [indicating that] the system is working,” SpaceX wrote in a blog post.

Starlink Direct-to-digital (D2D) satelliteStarlink Direct-to-digital (D2D) satellite


When the plan was announced, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said the technology was like putting a cell tower in the sky. He added that it could one day eliminate dead zones and allow people to easily connect with loved ones even if they are in the middle of the ocean.

SpaceX said the system, which uses LTE/4G (not 5G protocols), is slightly more sophisticated than cell towers in the sky. Since satellites travel at tens of thousands of miles per hour relative to Earth, data must be transmitted between them seamlessly. Doppler shift, time delays, and the relatively low transmission power of smartphones must also be considered.

The two companies are not the first to test such a system. Communications specialist AST SpaceMobile is successfully working with AT&T was conducted In April, it made the first two-way satellite voice call on its network, using a Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone to a number in Japan. AT&T too he complained It told the FCC that SpaceX and T-Mobile’s plan was “inadequate” in terms of the risk of harmful interference with terrestrial networks.

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