Elon Musk's surprise Starlink 'joint mission' with T-Mobile will provide network dead spots coverage
UPDATE: Starlink connectivity will serve as a satellite-to-cellular backup in the T-Mobile coverage dead zones everywhere in the continental US, Hawaii, parts of Alaska, Puerto Rico and territorial waters, announced CEOs Elon Musk and Mike Sievert.
Just don't expect 5G as the speeds will only be enough for texting and chat apps on clear skies for now. The bonus is that existing phones can take advantage of the extra Starlink coverage on T-Mobile that will go live by the end of 2023.
Original article below:
T-Mobile may have found a way to strengthen its 5G network coverage in rural areas via a surprise partnership with SpaceX's Starlink satellite Internet provider. Elon Musk took to Twitter to announce a surprise event he will be co-hosting with T-Mobile's CEO Mike Sievert at 8PM Eastern Time with the tagline "This is something special."
SpaceX has been embroiled in a tug-of-war with another satellite connectivity provider, DISH, which wants to use its high-frequency 12GHz satellite spectrum bands for providing terrestrial 5G coverage which Starlink claims will interfere with its satellite service to the point of rendering it "unusable."
That is why the joint Starlink event with T-Mobile may be advantageous for both companies. For Starlink, the partnership takes advantage of the FCC's recent permission to provide Internet in moving vehicles as long as it is fine with some "interference" from other services like DISH's terrestrial 5G connectivity plans, only it will be SpaceX providing the potential interference instead. For T-Mobile, the carrier will expand its 5G footprint in rural and hard-to-reach areas which are its Achilles heel compared to, say, Verizon's coverage.
This way both T-Mobile and Starlink may be able to apply for government subsidies earmarked for rural Internet reach expansion, too. T-Mobile, in particular, has a 5G coverage quota to fill, set in order to be granted the government nod for its merger with Sprint, and a Starlink partnership could work wonders towards that goal. "Together with Sprint, T-Mobile can create a deep, broad and nationwide 5G network that will cover nearly 96% of rural Americans by 2024," read its FCC filing at the time, and Elon Musk may be its surprise knight in white shiny armor as far as rural coverage expansion is concerned.
Instead of laying down fiber in hard-to-reach areas, T-Mobile's cell towers could simply piggyback on Starlink's ground stations, for instance, but we'll know more once Elon Musk and Mark Sievert take the stage at 8PM Eastern today.