T-Mobile and SpaceX want to connect your iPhone to satellites to end network dead zones


T-Mobile and SpaceX Coverage Above and Beyond
T-Mobile and SpaceX want to connect your existing phone to satellites.
Photo: T-Mobile

You won’t need an iPhone 14 or iPhone 15 for satellite connectivity. SpaceX and T-Mobile have announced their plan to bring cell connectivity everywhere in the US using satellites.

The service won’t require your phone to have satellite connectivity or any special chip. The Un-carrier says it will work with the “vast majority” of phones already on its network.

T-Mobile wants to connect existing smartphones on its network to SpaceX’s satellites

T-Mobile and SpaceX will collaborate to create a new “satellite-to-cellular” network called Coverage Above and Beyond. This will involve broadcasting from Starlink’s satellites using T-Mobile’s mid-band spectrum. The Un-carrier plans to give its subscribers cellular access in the continental US, Hawaii, parts of Alaska, and a few other regions. T-Mobile even says that the service will “provide nearly complete coverage almost anywhere a customer can see the sky.”

Initially, the satellite service will support SMS and MMS, with voice and data coverage planned for later. The service will be bundled free with T-Mobile’s most popular plans.

“The important thing about this is that it means there are no dead zones anywhere in the world for your cell phone,” says SpaceX Chief Engineer Elon Musk.

The network will initially launch in beta by the end of 2023. The timeline could change, though. It depends on the launch of Starlink’s second-generation satellites in low Earth orbit featuring advanced antennas.

Both T-Mobile and SpaceX also issued an open invitation to other carriers in the world to collaborate on this technology. T-Mobile will offer reciprocal roaming to those providers who work with it.

Could iPhone 14 debut with satellite connectivity?

Multiple reports in the past have claimed that Apple is researching ways to transmit data directly to iPhones from satellites. Before iPhone 13’s launch, a rumor indicated the phone could support two-way communication with low Earth orbit satellites, with Apple working with Globalstar for connectivity.

The iPhone 13 lineup never shipped with such a feature, but it could debut on the iPhone 14 lineup this year. Reportedly, the connectivity option will be limited to emergency cases and won’t be meant for casual chitchat.


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