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SpaceX and T-Mobile’s Starlink-Powered Cell Service Update

  • SpaceX and T-Mobile announced plans to turn Starlink into cell service for dead zones.
  • In a letter to the FCC, SpaceX urged the commission to push through a request.
  • SpaceX wants to be able to charge T-Mobile for access to Starlink satellites.
  • Competitors like Dish Network and AT&T are crying foul over the new service.

Last year SpaceX and T-Mobile announced somewhat vague plans to turn Starlink into cell service for dead zones. A new filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides an update on the state of play so far. In a letter addressed to the FCC, SpaceX vice president of satellite policy David Goldman urged the commission to push through a request needed for approval to move forward. Specifically, SpaceX is seeking authorization to use T-Mobile’s PCS G Block spectrum for Supplemental Coverage from Space, which would allow them to charge for access to Starlink satellites in the name of eliminating coverage dead zones.

This has caused competitors like Dish Network and AT&T to cry foul over concerns that the new service could disrupt their operations. SpaceX has provided what it hopes is enough evidence to convince the FCC that its direct-to-cell service won’t interfere with existing terrestrial and planned space operations. Apple has also built satellite phone functionality into the iPhone starting with the current iPhone 14 lineup. Globalstar-powered Emergency SOS service went live first in the US in November 2022 for the low price of free for two years. The timeline for when T-Mobile customers can expect to have access to Starlink remains uncertain.

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