SpaceX has announced the launch of its first set of direct to cell satellites that will be able to connect to cellphones directly. These new Starlink direct to phone satellites like their name implies will be able to deliver broadband internet directly to your phone without requiring additional hardware.
In its first launch of 2024, SpaceX launched 21 satellites, including six Direct to Cell satellites into the lower earth orbit on a Falcon 9 spacecraft.
“This launch will include the first six Starlink satellites with Direct to Cell capabilities that will enable mobile network operators around the world to provide seamless global access to texting, calling, and browsing wherever you may be on land, lakes, or coastal waters,”
SpaceX wrote in the announcement.
The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the payload lifted off from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base at 10:44 p.m. EST on January 2, 2024 (03:13 GMT on January 3; 7:44 p.m. local California time).
The 21 Starlink satellites including the 6 direct to phone satellites adds to growing satellite constellation consisting of over 5000 active satellites for enhanced global connectivity and handling of dead zones.
SpaceX is partnering with telecoms providers around the world to capabilities of direct to cell technology to consumers. Partners include TMobile in the United States, Rogers in Canada, KDDI in Japan, Optus in Australia, One NZ in New Zealand, Salt Mobile in Germany, and Entel in Chile.
Mobile Operators that partner with SpaceX in the direct to phone capability will be able to offer global access. This means their customers will be able to access their services even in location where they do not have physical infrastructure.
When this direct to phone technology is fully deployed, users will be able to access Starlink satellite broadband services directly on their smartphones without needing the usual Starlink specialized hardware. Some consumers are even asking for the Xphone, but it remains to be seen what Elon Mask thinks about this.