Starlink, the satellite internet service provided by SpaceX, is set to launch a direct-to-cell service in 2024, allowing smartphones to connect directly to the Starlink network without the need for any external hardware. This service, dubbed “Direct to Cell,” will provide reliable and high-speed internet connectivity to even the most remote and underserved areas.
How it works
Direct to Cell works by utilizing the Starlink satellite network to establish a direct link with smartphones. This is done by equipping Starlink satellites with advanced eNodeB modems, which act like cellphone towers in space. This allows mobile devices to connect to the Starlink network in the same way they would connect to a traditional cellular network.
Direct to Cell offers a number of benefits over traditional cellular networks, including:
- Global coverage: Direct to Cell will provide coverage to all areas of the globe, including remote and underserved regions that currently lack cellular coverage.
- High-speed internet: Direct to Cell is expected to offer internet speeds comparable to 4G LTE networks.
- No additional hardware required: Direct-to Cell works with existing LTE smartphones, so there is no need to purchase any additional hardware or install any special apps.
Starlink’s Direct to Cell: Satellite Internet for Smartphones
Direct to Cell has a wide range of potential applications, including:
- Emergency communications: Direct to Cell can be used to provide emergency communications to disaster areas and other areas where traditional cellular networks are unavailable.
- Rural connectivity: Direct to Cell can be used to provide high-speed internet access to rural areas that currently lack reliable cellular coverage.
- Maritime connectivity: Direct to Cell can be used to provide internet access to ships and other vessels at sea.
- IoT connectivity: Direct to Cell can be used to connect IoT devices, such as sensors and actuators, to the internet.
While there is currently no other company offering a direct-to-cell satellite internet service, Amazon is reportedly developing a similar service. However, Starlink has a significant advantage in this field, as it is already operating a large and well-established satellite network.
Pricing and availability
Starlink has not yet announced pricing or availability for Direct to Cell. However, the company has stated that the service will be rolled out in phases, starting with a trial that supports only text messaging on smartphones. Once the trial is successful, Starlink plans to expand the service to include voice and data capabilities.
Starlink’s Direct Cell service has the potential to revolutionize the way we communicate and access information. By providing reliable and high-speed internet connectivity to even the most remote and underserved areas, Direct to Cell can help bridge the digital divide and connect the world.