SpaceX Launches Starlink Satellites for Groundbreaking Direct-to-Cell Connectivity Test

SpaceX Launches Starlink Satellites for Direct-to-Cell Connectivity Test | CIO Women Magazine

Source – Current Affairs – Adda247

In a historic move, SpaceX has initiated a groundbreaking test to explore the direct-to-cell capabilities of its Starlink satellites. The aerospace company successfully launched the first six of these innovative satellites on Tuesday, carried by its Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. This batch, comprising a total of 21 Starlink satellites, is designed to push the boundaries of connectivity beyond the constraints of traditional cell signals.

FCC Grants Temporary License for Starlink Direct-to-Cell Tests

Elon Musk’s SpaceX received approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in December to conduct tests for direct-to-cell communication between Starlink satellites and regular mobile phones. Under a temporary license spanning six months, SpaceX is authorized to utilize 2,000 test devices and 840 satellites for this pioneering initiative. The collaboration extends to T-Mobile, which issued open invitations to global providers. Notably, five providers, including Rogers in Canada, KDDI in Japan, Optus in Australia, One NZ in New Zealand, and Salt in Switzerland, have opted to participate.

The six Starlink satellites at the forefront of this project are equipped with a space-based cellular broadband network. SpaceX envisions the deployment of virtual cellphone towers in space, eliminating the need for additional ground-based hardware for making calls. The objective is to extend cellular services to areas currently devoid of coverage, marking a significant leap in global connectivity.

The Race for Space-Based Cellular Broadband Networks

SpaceX is not alone in its pursuit of space-based cellular broadband networks directly accessible by cell phones. Competitors like AST SpaceMobile and Lynk Global are also actively developing similar technology. AST successfully launched its prototype satellite in September 2022, achieving the milestone of the first-ever 5G phone call to a Samsung Galaxy S22 using AT&T spectrum. Lynk Global, based in Virginia, deployed three satellites designed to deliver service from space directly to cell phones on Earth.

While Starlink’s direct-to-cell services are set to commence with text messages, plans for voice and data coverage are expected to follow, potentially by 2025. However, SpaceX will still need a regulatory license to offer these advanced services to its customers, according to SpaceNews. As the FCC continues working on developing a regulatory framework for direct-to-cell satellites, multiple companies are vying to establish a foothold in this transformative technology, heralding a new era in global communication.



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