Spacecraft engineering company SpaceX and T-Mobile recently announced a partnership that will enable smartphones to connect directly to satellites.
According to GSM Arena, this will be supported by upcoming Starlink V2 satellites but will work with existing phones because it will use an existing band in the PCS spectrum.
Google SVP of Platforms & Ecosystems Hiroshi Lockheimer announced on Twitter that the company is working on building satellite communication support into the next version of Android (v14).
While the existing radio hardware in the current phone will do the job, it’s not yet clear what software updates will be required, as per GSM Arena.
T-Mobile and SpaceX are expected to start beta testing the new satellite in late 2023 when Android 14 will arrive. Though early on it will give coverage for the US, the companies plan to expand the service to cover the entire world.
It will be slow, around 2 to 4Mbps per cellular zone, but that is enough for hundreds of thousands of text messages. And not just simple SMS, MMS will be supported and even “participating messaging apps”.
Later on, support for voice calls and even mobile data will be added, though the usability for general Internet browsing is unknown, the service should have enough bandwidth for 1-2,000 voice calls, which is great in cases of emergencies and in remote areas, reported GSM Arena.
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