Elon Musk’s ramblings about creating his own “alternative” smartphone may not currently be in the works. But one of Musk’s companies is working on improving cellular connectivity.
Musk’s space company signed a deal with T-Mobile, one of the major U.S. wireless carriers, in August 2022 that will allow customers to access Starlink-provided network access primarily in dead zones across the country. U.S. regulators approved these satellites last month, according to TechCrunch.
International wireless carriers, like Rogers in Canada and KDDI in Japan, are also expected to work with SpaceX for connectivity in areas with little-to-no service.
According to Starlink’s website, these satellites will act as a “cellphone tower in space.”
“Direct to Cell works with existing LTE phones wherever you can see the sky,” reads the company’s website. “No changes to hardware, firmware, or special apps are required, providing seamless access to text, voice, and data.”
While the first of these Starlink satellites have launched, consumers will still have to wait for some time. T-Mobile is expected to begin direct-to-cell testing with text messaging later this year, with voice and data tests rolling out in 2025 or later.