T-Mobile US

Out-of-this-world connectivity

1 minute read

There are still yawning gaps in cell-network coverage across the U.S. More than half a million square miles of the country does not receive a cell signal, according to T-Mobile US. Like lack of internet access, these deficits affect employment and educational opportunities in rural areas. In January, Starlink satellites with “direct to cell” (DTC) capabilities transmitted text messages through T-Mobile’s network for the first time. The successful test was part of a partnership inked in 2022 between T-Mobile and SpaceX—which owns Starlink—that aims to support connectivity with ordinary smartphones anywhere in the U.S. with a clear view of the sky. Now the race for near-universal satellite-based connectivity is heating up. AT&T in May announced a deal with AST SpaceMobile to bring satellite connections to its customers. (Starlink, which plans to launch DTC-enabled satellites worldwide, has also partnered with carriers in Canada, Australia, and Japan.) T-Mobile customers will get satellite text messaging later this year, the company says, with voice and data services to follow; some Android 15 beta users reported texting via satellite in mid-May.

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