SpaceX + T-Mobile Want to End Mobile Dead Zones!

No more dead zones! T-Mobile and SpaceX partnership - coming 2023!! Stay tuned!  Elon Musk says this is primarily for data and texting in an emergency situation and will not be high-speed data at 2 to 4 mb/s. This will require a special messaging application to handle this traffic and will not require you to get a new phone. 

T-Mobile and SpaceX announcing their Coverage Above & Beyond partnership with the mission to bring about the "end of mobile dead zones". T-Mobile will be leveraging a sliver of it's midland PCS spectrum to connect to a Starlink LEO satellite with existing phones. The service is expected to arrive late next year. Managing expectations, Elon Musk stated that the service will be initially to limited texting and some media. 2 to 4 Mbps downlink. We are not talking broadband here. Mike Sievert suggested that data and voice may come in the future without specifying a timeline. He also announced reciprocal roaming worldwide in a bid to solicit carrier partners across the world. The service will be included for free in T-Mobile's "most popular" plans.

2Mb/s to a satellite from a handheld terminal is nothing to scoff at. I would even say it is significant. I would like to understand how many simultaneous connections would be handled and what the average or median data rates accessible by users are at load.

The key to mobile handheld connectivity to satellites is the radiated power from the handheld to the satellite. On the downlink, data rates will depend on the size of the antenna on the satellite and phone. With the phone antenna being limited in size, the dependence on the satellite antenna is stronger. If you want the phone to be indistinguishable from a mobile phone, there won’t be too much directivity. External antennas will mean user involvement in screwing on a special antenna, while internal antennas will limit performance. The latter will allow the cellular and satellite modes to work in concert.

Kudos to Elon for trying to set expectations despite one member of the press confusing this service as mobile satellite broadband. It isn't. Besides, we won't see this service for a year. By then Apple might steal T-Mobile's thunder with Globalstar.

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