Business Essentials for Professionals


Using Satellites, SpaceX And T-Mobile Hope To End "Dead Zones"

Using Satellites, SpaceX And T-Mobile Hope To End "Dead Zones"
The goal of SpaceX and T-Mobile is to beam cell service to "most places in the US," which would include some of the most remote regions that have historically been unreachable by wireless connectivity.
The plan is to use Starlink, a satellite-based internet service operated by SpaceX, to add a "extra layer" of connectivity to T-Mobile phones, and the companies hope to launch it in beta testing by the end of the year. In the hopes that Starlink's global reach will allow people to use their phones for messaging throughout the world, T-Mobile is also providing reciprocal roaming to cellular carriers in other nations.
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, said at a gathering, "This is an open invitation to carriers around the world. Please get in touch with us."
According to Musk, the "version 2" or V2 Starlink satellites will be the main support for the new service. Before next year, those are not anticipated to start launching.
"To provide this service, the companies will create a new network, broadcast from Starlink's satellites using T-Mobile's midband spectrum nationwide. This true satellite-to-cellular service will provide nearly complete coverage almost anywhere a customer can see the sky," according to a T-Mobile press release.
According to Musk, current-generation smartphones will also function with satellite-based cellular service provided by Starlink.
At an event announcing the partnership at SpaceX's facilities in South Texas, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert stated that the main objective is to put an end to "mobile dead zones." However, it will only be accessible to those with T-Mobile plans, despite Sievert's claim that the "most popular T-Mobile plans" will receive the service at no extra cost. The companies predicted that at first, communication would mostly consist of text messages, with sporadic video and voice calls. Later, the companies intend to upgrade the service.
"You might just have to wait half an hour, maybe, for the thing to go through, but it should still work from early on," Musk added. "It's not a substitute for ground cell stations, because ground cell stations especially in urban and suburban areas will definitely be superior to what we're talking about here. This is really meant to provide basic coverage to areas that are currently completely dead."
According to a press release from T-Mobile, "well over half a million square miles" of the US are "untouched by cell signals."
As it could offer people connectivity in emergency situations, such as when hiking in remote areas, Musk referred to it as a mission to "save lives."
It is common knowledge that significant portions of the United States lack cellular or internet service. While traditional broadband connections require networks of underground cables and cell service depends on towers that beam connectivity across specific areas, SpaceX's Starlink has taken a different approach to connectivity. Its connectivity is provided by clusters of satellites orbiting just a few hundred miles above the Earth.
How successful the partnership will be and how many wireless customers it will serve are still unknown. Starlink is also a relatively new service, with only 500,000 users as of this writing.
The announcement was made just two weeks after federal officials said SpaceX would not be receiving the nearly $900 million in subsidies that it had been given in December. They cited the fact that the company's satellite-based service is "still developing technology" and that it "failed to demonstrate that [it] could deliver the promised service" as the reason for their decision.

Christopher J. Mitchell

Markets | Companies | M&A | Innovation | People | Management | Lifestyle | World | Misc