Starlink plans 2024 direct-to-cell service for SMS

Starlink plans 2024 direct-to-cell service for SMS

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A new webpage added to Starlink’s website has revealed that SMS services for its direct-to-cell solution will go live in 2024. Voice, data and IoT services will go live in 2025.

The website boasts that “direct to cell works with existing LTE phones wherever you can see the sky. No changes to hardware, firmware, or special apps are required, providing seamless access to text, voice, and data.”

But not everyone in the industry thinks this is for the best.

“Starlink continues to set ambitious targets for its satellite network, however, its plans to deliver a direct-to-cell service requires scrutiny. Offering connectivity supported by unmodified 4G handsets might only result in low-bandwidth data and voice services, falling short of contemporary data demands and user experience,” Peter Kibutu, advanced technology lead, NTNs at TTP, a satellite consultancy, told Capacity.

The project was first announced in August of 2022, and sees Starlink partner with T-Mobile in the US.

T-Mobile allow Starlink to use its 5G spectrum, while gaining access to the Starlink network, and thus securing near ubiquitous coverage in the States.

Other partnerships Starlink has formed include Optus in Australia, Rogers in Canada, KDDI in Japan and Salt in Switzerland.

Direct to cell services have been emerging over the past few years, with Apple launching emergency SOS features and AT&T backed AST Space Mobile placing the first call over a 5G network from an unmodified phone as recently as last month.

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