SpaceX and T-Mobile just announced a press conference that will take place tomorrow evening at 8 p.m. ET from SpaceX’s Texas development site Starbase. SpaceX said the purpose of the conference is to “announce plans to increase connectivity” without providing any other details.
There are a number of ways SpaceX and T-Mobile could team up to expand their connectivity in both rural and urban areas. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk hyped up the press conference saying, “This is something special.”
So what could this partnership be? One guess would be a mobile Starlink product that could combine a 5G cellular connection when in more urban areas with a Starlink connection when in more rural areas. This could be the best of both worlds, where the router would connect to 5G connectivity where available and use Starlink as its fallback. This could decrease the amount of traffic being sent over the satellite network per customer, allowing more people to make use of the service overall. Starlink is optimized for rural areas, while the limited range of 5G – especially the highest speed 5G mmWave – means that it works best in urban areas near the cell tower.
SpaceX already has its Starlink for RV, which allows Starlink to be used in different locations, but not in motion. A similar product optimized for permanent installation on a vehicle could benefit from the dual connectivity of cellular and satellite service. Several early Starlink customers have noted the decreases in speeds they have seen as more and more people join the service, so this could help combat that.
There is also the chance that this partnership goes the other way around, and Starlink will be used to provide backhaul services and offer 5G connectivity from T-Mobile in rural areas that don’t have other high-speed options available. Others have pointed out that Apple’s upcoming iPhone 14 event on September 7 also has a space theme to its invitation, speculating that this could be the companies working to bring direct Starlink satellite connection to phones.
This announcement comes as SpaceX is modifying its second-generation Starlink satellites for launches on Falcon 9 vehicles, in addition to their originally planned Starship launches. Last year, Musk described the version one Starlink satellites as “financially weak,” while saying that version two is “strong.” The version two satellites will help handle the bandwidth of a growing internet service provider, and getting V2 Starlink satellites up could be what allows Starlink to act as a backhaul for T-Mobile.
But for now, what will be announced is only speculation. Do you have any guesses as to what this partnership could be? Let us know in the comments down below.