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SpaceX and T-Mobile held a joint event at which SpaceX chief Elon Musk and T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert announced plans to expand connectivity.
T-Mobile announced a partnership with SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet service, unveiling the 'Coverage Above and Beyond' installation, through which mobile phones will be able to connect to satellites and use a fragment of the connection, providing between 2 and 4 megabits per second in a given coverage area.
Such speeds will be enough to send text, MMS messages and even use some messengers. According to Sievert, operators of messaging apps such as WhatsApp or iMessage will need to work with T-Mobile and Starlink to ensure that their services recognise the satellite connection and work with it after launch.
T-Mobile says satellite-communication will be available 'everywhere in the continental US, Hawaii, parts of Alaska, Puerto Rico and territorial waters'.
A beta version of the service is scheduled to launch by the end of next year in 'select areas', and Sievert says he hopes it will someday include data transmission.
Musk says the second-generation Starlink satellites to be launched next year will be able to broadcast services using part of T-Mobile's PCS mid-band spectrum. There are also plans to launch the equipment using a Starship rocket.
Musk also revealed that the new service can operate without access to all Starlink satellites, unlike the usual internet service. The new service may use a more intermittent connection for "basic" coverage, although it may have to wait 30 minutes for a message to go through.
Sievert and Musk said they are willing to work with other mobile carriers that would be interested in mutual spectrum-sharing agreements so their customers can connect with SpaceX and T-Mobile customers can use those connections when they travel to other countries.
Musk has already announced on Twitter that Tesla will use the technology for premium connectivity in its electric cars.
T-Mobile says current subscribers' phones will be able to use the network without special equipment.
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