SpaceX sets sights on Starlink direct-to-cellular service launch in Fall 2024

100% of Carnival Corporation’s ships across the global fleet are equipped with Starlink’s high-speed, low-latency global internet connectivity. Credit: Carnival Corporation

SpaceX seems to be setting its sights on a Fall 2024 launch for its highly anticipated Starlink direct-to-cellular phone service. The company’s plans were mentioned in a filing submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

“SpaceX appreciates the Commission’s leadership in adopting a flexible regulatory framework for supplemental coverage from space (‘SCS’) that will enable ubiquitous mobile coverage for consumers and first responders and will set a strong example for other countries to follow. SpaceX supports nearly all of the Commission’s recent SCS Order and looks forward to launching commercial direct-to-cellular service in the United States this fall,” the filing read.

The FCC filing also provided some details on SpaceX’s further plans for its Starlink direct-to-cellular technology. While Starlink’s direct-to-cell system is designed to provide text, voice, and web browsing capabilities to users during its launch, more advanced features could be rolled out in the future. 

“Although SpaceX currently intends to provide text, voice, and web browsing through its supplemental coverage network, future innovations may permit even more robust supplemental coverage service and enhanced features. While this improved service will not substitute for terrestrial mobile networks, it would provide an enhanced source of connectivity where those networks do not exist,” the FCC filing noted. 

While a Fall 2024 launch for Starlink’s direct-to-cellular service is exciting, SpaceX noted in its filing that a potential roadblock lies in the FCC’s current framework for satellite-to-phone connectivity. The SpaceX filing urged the FCC to reconsider the aggregate limit on radio frequencies for cellular satellites, as noted in a PCMag report. 

“An across-the-board, aggregate out-of-band limit… will unfortunately undermine the goal of providing robust coverage during emergencies… Because these limits will apply even where no adjacent terrestrial networks exist or where those networks have been damaged by natural disasters, the aggregate limit will needlessly limit the coverage and quality of direct-to-cellular connectivity even where there is no risk of adjacent-band interference,” SpaceX noted in its filing. 

SpaceX’s filing to the FCC can be viewed below. 

Starlink Cellular Service Launch by Simon Alvarez on Scribd

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SpaceX sets sights on Starlink direct-to-cellular service launch in Fall 2024
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