T-Mobile subscribers will be getting a satellite upgrade to their wireless service, thanks to a newly announced partnership that takes advantage of SpaceX’s Starlink constellation.
But don’t expect to start streaming high-definition videos via satellite to your T-Mobile connected devices immediately: The beta version of Starlink’s broadband boost is due to roll out in select areas by the end of next year, after a series of SpaceX satellite launches.
That rollout will begin with text messaging, including SMS, MMS and messaging apps. Voice and data coverage will come later.
T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk laid out the details behind the deal today during a live presentation at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in South Texas.
Sievert said the partnership calls for creating a new network, composed of Starlink satellites that can use T-Mobile’s mid-band spectrum nationwide. He said the vast majority of smartphones already on its network would be compatible with the new satellite-plus-cellular service.
“You can connect with your existing phone,” Sievert promised. He said he expected to include the Starlink-enabled service free with T-Mobile’s most popular plans. With less popular plans, a monthly fee might be charged, he said.