T-Mobile and SpaceX’s satellite link probably doesn’t need an iPhone 14

T-Mobile and SpaceX’s satellite link probably doesn’t need an iPhone 14

T-Mobile and SpaceX’s satellite link probably doesn’t need an iPhone 14

T-Mobile and SpaceX today announced a plan to offer smartphone connectivity almost everywhere in the US with a new “satellite-to-cellular” service.

tmobile spacex satellite link
The new technology uses SpaceX’s second-generation Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit and T-Mobile’s rural mid-band 5G spectrum to provide “nearly complete coverage” in most areas in the US. next to territorial waters. If successful, the technology would eliminate “mobile dead zones” and keep customers connected away from cell towers, which would be especially useful in emergency situations.

T-Mobile and SpaceX said they hope to enter into reciprocal roaming agreements with international carriers to offer the service globally in the future.

“Most importantly, it means there are no dead zones for your cell phone anywhere in the world,” said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in a press release announcing the plan. “We are incredibly excited to do this with T-Mobile.”

Below, we’ve outlined some key details about T-Mobile and SpaceX’s plans and what the launch of the service will mean for iPhone users.

Does the satellite connection work with iPhones?

T-Mobile said the “vast majority of smartphones” already connected to its network will be compatible with the new “satellite-to-cellular” service, and this will presumably include iPhones. We have asked T-Mobile and Apple for clarification, but the companies have not immediately responded to our requests for comment.

T-Mobile said satellite connectivity will use a smartphone’s existing mobile chip and will not require a Starlink terminal or other hardware.

Does the satellite connection require an iPhone 14?

As mentioned above, T-Mobile said the “vast majority” of existing smartphones will be compatible with its satellite link service right out of the box, so it doesn’t sound like the feature requires Apple’s upcoming iPhone 14 models.

BloombergMark Gurman has reported that iPhone 14 models may have satellite connectivity for emergency use, but he said Apple’s partner would likely be satellite company Globalstar rather than SpaceX, so the feature may be unrelated.

Speaking at a press event in Texas, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert also said the carrier has yet to work with other companies on how they will integrate the technology, further suggesting Apple is not currently involved in the plans. Of course, Apple could choose to partner with T-Mobile and SpaceX to fully support the service on iPhones in the future, even though the companies have yet to discuss the matter.

Since the service will use T-Mobile’s mid-band 5G spectrum, Starlink satellite connectivity may require an iPhone 12 or newer, but we’ll have to wait for the companies to share additional details about the technology.

How will the technology work?

SpaceX plans to have a constellation of second-generation Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit with advanced antennas that will allow smartphones to connect over T-Mobile’s mid-band 5G spectrum without additional hardware. T-Mobile said the service will provide “nearly complete coverage almost anywhere a customer can see the sky,” and Elon Musk said the service should work when a person has the phone in their pocket or in a vehicle.

What is the purpose of satellite connection?

T-Mobile and SpaceX said the satellite-to-cellular service is primarily designed for areas without existing cellular network coverage, to eliminate cellular dead zones. The service is not intended to replace much faster mobile networks in urban and suburban areas, but will instead allow people to stay connected in areas without cell towers for basic communication via text messages and eventually phone calls.

When and where will the service be launched?

T-Mobile and SpaceX plan to launch the service in beta by the end of 2023, starting in select areas of the US. The service will eventually cover most areas of the continental US, Hawaii, parts of Alaska, Puerto Rico and US territorial waters.

T-Mobile and SpaceX said they hope to enter into reciprocal roaming agreements with international carriers to offer the service globally in the future.

How much will the service cost?

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said the carrier plans to offer Starlink satellite connectivity on its “most popular plans” at no additional cost. For some cheaper plans, Sievert said T-Mobile may charge a monthly fee to access the service, with prices that would be “much less” expensive than existing satellite service providers.

Does the service work for phone calls and text messages? What about iMessage?

Starlink’s direct satellite connection to smartphones will initially work with SMS and MMS text messaging and “participating messaging apps,” according to T-Mobile and SpaceX. The announcement didn’t mention any participating messaging apps, so it’s unclear if Apple’s iMessage service will be supported at launch.

In the future, the companies plan to “pursue the addition of voice and data coverage” for phone calls, web browsing and more, but speeds would be limited.

How fast will the satellite connection be?

Starlink second-generation satellites will be able to provide data rates of up to 2-4 Mbps to each cell zone, which Elon Musk says would be suitable for text messages and eventually phone calls.

Exact speeds would depend on how many T-Mobile customers are using the service in a particular cell zone at the same time. If a cell isn’t very busy, Musk said users will be able to play “a little bit” of video in the future, but the service isn’t intended for this type of use and is instead designed for basic communications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.