SpaceX just made the first video call with an iPhone connected directly to the Starlink satellite

  • Any phone compatible with LTE Band 25 will be able to connect to the Starlink Direct to Cell cellular connection

  • Starlink announced yesterday that it has surpassed three million customers in the 99 countries where it is available

SpaceX has been preparing a new direct cellular service for cell phones equipped with Starlink satellites for some time. Emergency messaging via satellite has become more popular in recent years, but Starlink's Direct to Cell service will allow you to make video calls using a regular smartphone.

Video call through Starlink. At a demonstration Published on Tuesday in Xtwo SpaceX engineers use a Google Pixel and an unmodified iPhone to video call each other.

The Pixel connects to a terrestrial cellular antenna, and the iPhone connects to the Starlink Direct to Cell satellite. There are no satellite dishes, and no additional equipment. Although the image of the person using the satellite connection appears choppy, the video call does not interrupt during the short video duration.

How it works. SpaceX has launched several Starlink satellites with direct cellular connectivity. The last 13 took off On May 14 from California. It's not as fast as residential Starlink service, due to the physical limitations of the antenna beam, but it achieves a decent speed of 17 Mbps.

In the US, Starlink has reached an agreement with T-Mobile to conduct its tests before deploying the service. SpaceX engineers are performing these tests in the PCS G frequency block, which is equivalent to Band 25 of the LTE spectrum, so almost any modern smartphone can connect directly to the Starlink Direct to Cell satellite, even indoors.

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When will it be available? Instead of offering it directly to its customers, Starlink is entering into agreements with operators around the world to deploy Starlink Direct to Cell as an add-on service. T-Mobile, Rogers, Salt or Entel will provide their customers with the ability to connect to Starlink satellites in areas where there is no coverage.

The spread will be gradual. At the end of 2024, customers of these operators will be able to send SMS, MMS and emergency calls in areas where there is no coverage. Starting in 2025, they will be able to use their own mobile data, according to SpaceX.

The goose that lays the golden eggs. Starlink announced this yesterday Exceeded three million customers In 99 countries where it is available. The company, which already operates more than 6,000 satellites in low Earth orbit, has gone from red numbers to billions of dollars in profits. There was only one company able to achieve this: the only company that launched and landed its rockets regularly.

Image | SpaceX

In Chataka | Starlink achieves direct satellite connection with the Samsung Galaxy S21. It reaches the maximum speed of the satellite

Lovell Loxley

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