Elon Musk's SpaceX plans to test Starlink and T-Mobile's cell phone service this year in an attempt to eliminate dead zones worldwide, exec says
Starlink and T-Mobile will test their service in 2023, SpaceX exec Jonathan Hofeller said, per CNBC.
This could soon bring cellular connectivity to Americans in areas with no cell service.
Elon Musk previously tweeted that the service would "eliminate dead zones worldwide."
A SpaceX executive said the company planned to start testing Starlink and T-Mobile's satellite-to-cell service this year, CNBC reported.
Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX's vice president of Starlink commercial sales, gave the update during a panel at Satellite 2023 conference in Washington D.C. on Monday, per CNBC reporter Michael Sheetz.
Hofeller didn't give a specific date for testing the cell service in 2023, according to the report. It means, however, that SpaceX and T-Mobile are getting closer to offering cellular connectivity to people in areas with no cell coverage.
"We're going to learn a lot by doing — not necessarily by overanalyzing — and getting out there," Hofeller said Monday, per CNBC.
SpaceX and T-Mobile announced in August they were teaming up to provide mobile users phone service via Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit. The companies said the service was expected to offer almost full coverage to most areas in the US, even in the most rural places that were previously not connected to traditional cell signals.
After the announcement, Elon Musk tweeted the new service was projected to "eliminate dead zones worldwide" and it would "work great for texting & voice calls." He also confirmed Tesla vehicles would have this feature in the future so they could connect directly to Starlink satellites for emergency calls and texts.
SpaceX and T-Mobile didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comments made outside of normal US operating hours.
Starlink is SpaceX's satellite internet constellation, which offers broadband to customers across the world. Users have to sign up to the service for $110 a month, or slightly more depending on their location, and buy the kit for $600.
Starlink has more than 4,000 satellites in orbit, Hofeller said in the conference on Monday, per CNBC. SpaceX is launching the satellites around twice a week and "it's not crazy to think that the boss will push for more," he added, per a tweet by Sheetz.
The company is manufacturing six satellites and thousands of user terminals every day, Hofeller said, per the report.
The move is designed to keep up with a large user base. SpaceX said in December that Starlink had more than one million active subscribers worldwide. Hofeller on Monday said there were now "well over" one million users. That's up from 145,000 users at the beginning of 2022.
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