Starlink launches new Direct to Cell service

Starlink has launched its new Direct to Cell service.

The first set of Starlink satellites, which were launched yesterday by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, will beam signals directly to smartphones from space, enabling users to text, call or browse wherever they are.

The text service will start in 2024, followed by voice and data and IoT, both in 2025.

SpaceX agreed a deal with wireless carriers in August 2022 to provide phone users in areas where there is no signal with network access through its Starlink satellites.

One such carrier, T-Mobile US, said the launched satellites were already in low Earth orbit and that it will soon begin field testing the new service.

While providers from across the world, including in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland, Chile and Peru have signed up to the deal, it appears that there is currently no UK partner.

SpaceX plans to quickly scale up the project in the coming months, with eventually 840 satellites transmitting 4G connectivity to around 2,000 smartphones.

Other Direct to Cell players currently include Lynk, which launched its services in Palau, Amazon’s Project Kuiper and AST SpaceMobile.