SpaceX and T-Mobile hosted a presentation Thursday evening to discuss how the two companies will work together to boost internet connectivity.
As part of the presentation, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and T-Mobile President Mike Sievert discussed the restrictions to cellular wireless networks for many remote communities.
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Musk then announced the partnership with T-Mobile to engineer satellites with the ability to transmit directly to people’s cell phones, which is expected to increase coverage nationwide.
“Starlink second-generation satellites will be able to broadcast direct to cell phones,” Musk said during the meeting. “So the cell phones you’re holding up there — you will be able to transmit directly to your cell or mobile phone.”
Musk said the satellites would enable texting, sending images and video streaming, while also providing cellular coverage to many areas in the world that might not otherwise have access.
To accomplish the goal, Musk said SpaceX would be launching more Starlink satellites into orbit and reworking the antennae on the company’s satellites — roughly 25 square meters — to make them “stronger.”
In addition, Musk said SpaceX would look into working with mobile network companies in other countries to provide such coverage on a global level.
SpaceX said that more than 20% of the United States’ land area are uncovered by wireless companies, and those “dead zones” can prove dangerous for communities located within them.
“We’ve all read about somebody who’s been hiking and got lost and perhaps died of thirst or exposure, or someone that got stuck in a blizzard and froze to death...” Musk explained in a speech at the presentation. “But now, you can call for help. So the thing that I think is really profound about what we’re pronouncing today is that it will save lives.”
Sievert told a crowd during the presentation that T-Mobile’s most popular plans will have this feature built in, giving customers access to nearly universal coverage.
According to SpaceX’s website, the satellite-to-cellular service will provide “nearly complete coverage anywhere a customer can see the sky.”
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