SpaceX and T-Mobile team up to use Starlink satellites

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert and SpaceX founder Elon Musk announce partnership plans on August 25, 2022.


SpaceX founder Elon Musk and T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said their companies are working to “end mobile dead zones” and will launch a new mobile service powered by second-generation Starlink satellites and T-Mobile bandwidth.

Starlink is made up of a network of satellites that SpaceX launched into low Earth orbit and designed to deliver high-speed internet access to remote locations around the world. SpaceX has launched more than 2,700 satellites to support this network.

Speaking Thursday night at SpaceX’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas, Sievert said T-Mobile would dedicate a “slice of its mid-band PCS spectrum” to integrate into Starlink satellites launching next year.

T-Mobile users will be able to use messaging, MMS and some messaging apps, from remote points in the lower 48 states, Alaska, Puerto Rico and Hawaii and even some remote points in the water.

Eventually, the service will work with voice, Sievert said. T-Mobile plans to include the service in its most popular mobile plans, but did not disclose specific pricing.

Musk said the service will work with Starlink’s second-generation satellites, which have very large antennas and will be able to transmit directly to a cell or mobile phone.

The service will not require mobile users to get a new phone. Musk said during or after a natural disaster, even if all cell towers are taken down, the planned service should work.

Musk clarified, “It won’t have the kind of bandwidth that a Starlink terminal will have, but it will allow texting, enabling pictures, and if it’s not too crowded in the cellular area, you can even potentially have a little bit of video.” He added: ‘We will no longer read about those tragedies that happened where people got lost and if only they could have called for help they would be fine.

T-Mobile will also offer “reciprocal roaming,” so visitors to the United States from outside the country can use the service if they also partner with SpaceX to enable the service globally. Musk and Sievert have invited foreign carriers to join their alliance.

Shares of T-Mobile closed one point Thursday at $147.07 and trended slightly higher after hours.

As CNBC Pro previously reported, Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in an industry note this week that they favor T-Mobile as the top pick in telecommunications services, and they “expect T -Mobile continues to take shares, leading to top- and bottom line growth, with buyout expected to begin soon.”

CNBC’s Michael Sheetz contributed reporting.

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.

Lance B. Holton