SpaceX and T-Mobile Will Put Cellphone Coverage into Starlink Gen 2

SpaceX and T-Mobile will put cellphone antenna emulators into the Starlink Gen 2 satellites. T-Mobile will give SpaceX Starlink part of their cellphone spectrum. On Thursday, August 25 at Starbase, SpaceX Chief Engineer Elon and T-Mobile CEO and President Mike Sievert said T-Mobile and SpaceX will work together to increase connectivity.

Starlink will amplify and repeat cellphone signals. This will enable text messages to be sent globally. The antenna will be about 25 square meters. It will enable 2-4 megabits of communication for the entire cell. But the space based cells will be huge. So a lot of people sharing low levels of data. Again, this is why they will start with just text messages. This provides basic coverage to areas that are currently completely dead.

Eventually, Starlink will have 30,000 Gen 2 satellites. This would then enable 60-120 billion bits per second. IF, they could have 30,000 cells (one per satellite) with a complete Gen 2 constellation. 197 million square miles of area on the Earth. 6500 square miles per area covered by each Gen 2 satellite. If there are four times as many Gen 3 satellites, then the coverage shrinks to about 1600 square miles.

This will eventually enable voice and data.

It would enable basic messaging to be made around the world and will be great for remote areas and for emergency messaging.

SpaceX may make a Gen 2 mini satellite for launching on the Falcon 9.

Starlink will eventually handle backhaul communication for t-mobile. This would be especially useful for remote areas instead of adding a rarely used celltower.

20 thoughts on “SpaceX and T-Mobile Will Put Cellphone Coverage into Starlink Gen 2”

  1. Of course a Starlink Sat based service that allows small streams of data from users anywhere on the planet using existing mobile devices can also eventually become the foundation of an platform that lets people handle payments, transfer money, do investing, from anywhere on the planet without need for local internet service. That universality could be extended to using on the Moon and Mars too.

    The service announced just piggybacks on standard V2 Starlink Sats but it might be expanded in the future by dedicated big satellites that just do mobile but laser link into the Starlink constellation as backbone and share components, launch, etc

    This is a reveal of a major expansion of Starlink that potentially is associated with whatever happens with Musk’s Twitter bid. Twitter is either the start of this platform or he rolls his own version.

    • 99.9% of the transactions are done in places with internet connectivity, no advantage for satellite broadband.
      If a shop is located in the wilderness it can use regular Starlink dish to get internet access and connect to whichever payment service they chose.

  2. I suppose this means US intelligence assets will have secure communications anywhere, national laws be damned.

  3. So, a dedicated antenna just for the phone use? That doesn’t seem right, I’d have expected a dual use antenna instead.

    I suppose the anticipated reduction in launch costs due to Starship really change the calculations here.

    • I would guess the existing phased array antennas will be configured for the frequencies T Mobile is turning over to SX for a varying fraction of the time, based on maximizing profitability. I suppose it will be a time shared phased array antenna!

      • The first video led me to expect that, the second outright stated that the phone service was getting a dedicated antenna. At this point I wouldn’t be shocked either way, though I had expected that the antenna would be shared, I suppose the new generation satellites are large enough to carry more than one phased array.

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  5. OK, finally some Starlink news that will effect my life!

    A friend has Starlink, by the way. Some hiccups in getting the mounting hardware, but he’s VERY happy, as he lives in a rural area that lacked any high speed internet.

      • He hasn’t shared any complaints. But he’s not doing gaming or high frequency trading, either, just watching movies and ordinary web surfing.

      • 35-40ms for the last hour like 99% of the time, min 25ms, max 90ms. Remote, about 100 miles from the ground AP. Pretty great IMO

    • I’m about to try life on the range untethered. I’ve got a small cabin some place nice with a view, and I’m eager to do remote work for some days per month .

      Already have the Starlink dish, just finishing some details to make the move.

  6. AST Spacemobile is looking to put massive phased array satellites in low earth orbit, the opposite of Starlinks approach which is for each individual to have an expensive phased array dish on the ground. AST can do voice and video directly to mobile handsets from space.

    • They need to have lots of satellites in LEO, due to the smaller coverage area in those orbits.

      Usually the “lots of stuff on LEO needed” part is the deal breaker for other providers.

      Starlink did it the way they did to make it easier (for them) to launch the sats in their existing and planned launchers, by offloading a lot of the antenna work to the end user stations. In fact it’s like a miracle how those satellite things work really.

    • Starlink will be taking a page from Spacemobile’s handbook and “borrowing” spectrum from existing cellular providers (unlike Lynk.Global). The only direct win for Spacemobile is their alleged antenna size, but how could they even compete with Starlink’s deployment pace? Even Spacemobile’s Bluewalker sats will be launching on Falcon 9, and they certainly are going to be paying list price for launch, unlike Starlink.

      Lynk.Global isn’t doing much better either, as their main claim to fame is operating a full cellular basestation in orbit, unlike Spacemobile, but Starlink sats likely have the necessary processing power to do that too if they so choose. It’s just easier from a regulatory perspective to borrow spectrum from T-mobile and do reduced tower operations.

      There will probably be variations on the “This validates our marketspace!” PR bleets from both Spacemobile and Lynk.Global, as any startup does, but you know in their hearts they are facing the 800lbs gorilla muscling in on them. The remaining viable exit plan for investors is to sell out to Kuiper now, as that at least has the Bezos vertical integration between AWS Kuiper and Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket to reduce costs. That, or pray for a hail mary investment from Apple launching a global MVNO beyond their existing Apple eSIM…

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