Starlink has announced that its satellites with Direct-to-Cell capabilities will soon enable ubiquitous access to texting, calling, and browsing wherever, anywhere on the globe. Texting service will begin in 2024, followed by voice and data in 2025 for unmodified cell phones. Direct-to-Cell will also connect IoT devices with common LTE standards in 2025.
Direct-to-Cell satellites will initially be launched on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and then Starship. In orbit, the satellites will immediately connect over laser backhaul to the Starlink constellation to provide global connectivity. Starlink satellites with Direct-to-Cell capability will have an advanced eNodeB modem onboard, allowing network integration similar to a standard roaming partner.
Cellular providers using Direct-to-Cell have access to reciprocal global access, including T-Mobile, U.S.; Optus, Australia; Rogers, Canada; One NZ, New Zealand; KDDI, Japan; and SALT, Switzerland.
Starlink will join AST SpaceMobile in providing space-based cellular broadband service that can be accessed by standard smartphones.