SpaceX's Starlink satellites have reached a significant milestone by successfully relaying text messages between smartphones. This achievement came just six days after the launch of six Starlink satellites equipped with direct-to-cell capabilities.
The groundbreaking test, carried out in collaboration with T-Mobile, demonstrated the potential for satellite connectivity to smartphones, even in challenging orbital conditions. SpaceX noted that terrestrial networks rely on stationary cell towers, whereas satellite networks involve rapidly moving satellites, requiring seamless handoffs and accounting for factors like Doppler shift and timing delays.
Furthermore, mobile phones with their low antenna gain and transmit power can be challenging to connect to satellites hundreds of kilometers away.
To address these challenges, SpaceX developed innovative custom silicon, phased-array antennas, and advanced software algorithms for the direct-to-cell Starlink satellites. This technology is set to revolutionize connectivity, allowing people to communicate worldwide, regardless of terrestrial dead zones.
T-Mobile plans to launch text services with Starlink in 2024 and expand to voice, data, and IoT services by 2025. SpaceX's ambitious satellite internet project aims to provide internet connectivity to remote and underserved areas, making it a crucial development in bridging the digital divide.