U.S wireless carrier T-Mobile US Inc will use Elon Musk-owned SpaceX’s Starlink satellites to provide mobile users with network access in parts of the United States, the companies announced on Thursday.
Starlink’s satellites will use T-Mobile’s mid-band spectrum to create a new network. Most phones used by the company’s customers will be compatible with the new service, which will start with texting services in a beta phase beginning by the end of next year.
SpaceX has launched nearly 3,000 low-Earth orbiting Starlink satellites since 2019, handily outpacing rivals OneWeb and Amazon.com Inc’s Project Kuiper.
Meanwhile, U.S telecom firms are in a race to build up the mid-band portion of their 5G networks to catch up with T-Mobile, which bagged a chunky 2.5 GHz of mid-band spectrum thanks to a buyout of rival Sprint.
Mid-band or C-Band has proven to be perfect for 5G, as it provides a good balance of both capacity and coverage.
The carrier said it aims to pursue voice and data coverage after the texting services beta phase.
Satellite communications firm AST SpaceMobile Inc is also building a global cellular broadband network in space that will operate with mobile devices without the need for additional hardware.
(Reporting by Akash Sriram and Eva Mathews in Bengaluru, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)