Developed by SpaceX, Starlink is a satellite-based internet service that is designed to provide high-speed internet access to remote and underserved areas of the world. There are a series of small, low-earth orbit satellites that are part of the network that together provide broadband internet access through a constellation of small, low-earth orbit satellites. There are currently over 3,500 satellites in the constellation and it is planned to deploy nearly 12,000 in total by September 2022. At the end of June 2022, the service had over 500,000 subscribers, but Elon Musk wants that number to go up. The space company is reportedly working on a way for users to be able to connect directly to the Starlink network from their smartphones.
SpaceX’s Starlink: Revolutionizing smartphone connectivity with direct satellite connections
It is necessary for users to have certain equipment before they can use SpaceX’s Starlink service, including antennas, receivers, and other related equipment. However, SpaceX is working on technology that will allow users to connect their smartphones directly to the Starlink network, eliminating the need for specialized equipment. This will make it easier for users to access high-speed internet from space and take advantage of Starlink’s capabilities.
There is a plan by SpaceX to allow smartphone users direct access to Starlink
SpaceX has filed an application with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to equip some of its second-generation Starlink satellites with “direct-to-cellular” hardware. This will allow users to connect their smartphones directly to the Starlink network, providing them with high-speed internet access from space.
SpaceX has already launched 3,500 first-generation Starlink satellites, and has received approval from the FCC to launch 7,500 more “Gen2” satellites before the end of the decade. With the new “direct-to-cellular” hardware, the company hopes to provide voice, messaging, and basic web browsing services to users with theoretical peak speeds of up to 18.3 Mbps on the downlink.
The application is a key step towards SpaceX’s goal of offering service for smartphones via T-Mobile. In August, the company announced plans to connect the two data networks in an effort to eradicate mobile dead zones in the US.
Other companies, such as Texas-based AST SpaceMobile, are also working on offering space-based mobile broadband services. However, SpaceX’s large constellation of satellites and its partnership with T-Mobile give it a significant advantage in the race to provide reliable internet access from space. If all goes according to plan, SpaceX could offer “full and continuous” smartphone coverage with 2,000 equipped Gen2 satellites as soon as 2024.