Starlink’s highly anticipated satellite cellular service will launch next year according to a new website detailing its features.
If you’re considering ditching your current phone carrier for Starlink though, you’ll have to wait until 2025 when voice and data becomes available. Likewise, IoT connectivity will also roll out in 2025.
First announced in August of last year, Starlink is partnering with T-Mobile on the project in the U.S., with Rogers in Canada, with Optus in Australia and with other mobile carriers in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland. However, once Direct-to-Cell launches, we’ll likely see similar partnerships with other carriers in even more countries.
Starlink’s collaboration with T-Mobile will see the carrier set aside some of its 5G spectrum to be used with its second-generation satellites. From here, T-Mobile phones will be able to use Starlink’s Direct-to-Cell for SMS initially followed by voice and data in 2025. As a result of this, T-Mobile will be able to offer “near complete coverage” in the U.S. according to a press release from back when the partnership was first announced.
While there isn’t any pricing information available yet, you can head to the website now to fill out a contact form at the bottom of the page if you’re interested. We’ll likely hear more from both Starlink and SpaceX once Direct-to-Cell gets closer to launch.
Outlook: Satellite cell service is having its moment
Back when Apple added Emergency SOS to the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro Max last year, satellite cell service didn’t seem like something you could rely on consistently. Instead, it was mainly designed for emergency situations in places where you couldn’t get a cellular signal.
In the time since, Qualcomm rolled out its own Snapdragon Satellite feature for the best Android phones with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipsets using the Iridium satellite network. Motorola also came up with its own way to add satellite cell service to existing phones using a Bluetooth accessory for $149 called the Defy Satellite Link.
Now though, Starlink is taking things to a whole new level with the promise of offering voice and data over satellite in addition to text messages. Unlike Apple and Qualcomm, however, Starlink has its own constellation of over 5,000 satellites with new ones launched every month. This gives the company a huge advantage over its competitors and could one day lead to Direct-to-Cell being as reliable or at least close to the kind of coverage offered by mobile carriers.
As Starlink is partnering with mobile carriers for Direct-to-Cell though, the service may end up being sold as an add-on with the best cell phone plans as opposed to being sold separately. Starlink’s Direct-to-Cell service could also make its way into the best electric cars from Tesla such as the Model 3 or even the upcoming Cybertruck.
At Tom's Guide we will be following Direct-to-Cell’s launch closely so check back for all the latest on Starlink’s new satellite cell service.