SpaceX launches its first ‘direct-to-cell’ Starlink satellites

SpaceX launches its first ‘direct-to-cell’ Starlink satellites

On Wednesday, SpaceX launched 21 additional Starlink satellites, including six so-called “direct to cell” satellites that can connect directly to the internet using smartphones.

SpaceX Launches 21 Starlink Satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) on Wednesday, the first six of which are equipped with “Direct to Cell” capabilities, allowing users to connect their mobile phones directly to mobile networks, eliminating the need for a dedicated Starlink terminal

Basically, the DTC Starlink satellites have high-end modems that act like cell towers in space. In the future, this could be used to get rid of cell phone dead zones on the ground. Just like network providers collaborate with other network providers across different countries to provide global roaming to their customers, network providers will soon be able to collaborate with Starlink to provide this direct to cell service.

According to SpaceX, T-Mobile, Rogers, KDDI, Optus (Australia), One NZ (New Zealand), Salt (Switzerland), and Entel (Chile and Peru) are among the many providers that already use Direct to Cell to provide reciprocal access in partner countries.

SpaceX had a relatively quiet year in 2023. The company’s Starship rocket, set to be the world’s most powerful rocket when it’s completed, exploded twice in test flights during the year. Musk’s company also flew numerous crew and cargo missions on the International Space Station, while its rival, Boeing, has yet to fly a single crewed mission despite winning a contract to do so at the same time SpaceX did.

However, the vast majority of the company’s efforts have been devoted to the development and deployment of the Starlink low earth orbit satellite network. Currently, Starlink has more than 5,000 satellites operating in orbit, providing relatively low latency internet services. With launches such as the one that took place on Wednesday, the number of active satellites continues to increase as the company continues its expansion of the world’s largest satellite internet network.