In a groundbreaking achievement, SpaceX, in collaboration with T-Mobile, has accomplished the transmission of text messages through its Starlink satellites. This remarkable development marks a significant step toward bringing direct-to-device cell service to the market.
Starlink’s Texting Milestone
SpaceX recently launched six Starlink satellites equipped with direct-to-device (D2D) capabilities, following authorization from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The company successfully demonstrated the texting capabilities on Monday, validating the system’s functionality. This achievement opens the door to connect unmodified cell phones directly to satellites.
The High Demand for D2D
SpaceX has acknowledged a substantial demand and interest in adding D2D capabilities to its Starlink network. The company has formed partnerships with leading mobile operators, including T-Mobile, Rogers (Canada), Optus (Australia), and KDDI (Japan). This collaboration underscores the growing importance of D2D services in the space industry.
Future Plans for Starlink
SpaceX’s ambitious roadmap includes offering D2D text services later this year, with plans to expand into voice, data, and internet of things (IoT) services by 2025. The company has already established Starlink as a global network, with over 5,000 satellites in orbit and more than 2.3 million customers worldwide.
Several smartphone manufacturers, service providers, and satellite companies are actively partnering to roll out D2D services. Notably, Apple has introduced its “Emergency SOS with Satellite” service in collaboration with satellite operator Globalstar, enhancing emergency communication capabilities.
Iridium’s Project Stardust
Qualcomm’s partnership with satellite communications company Iridium concluded last year, leading Iridium to embark on a new endeavor named “Project Stardust.” Iridium plans to test its D2D service in 2025, with intentions to roll it out by 2026, contributing to the growing landscape of direct satellite communication.