Elon Musk and T-Mobile team up to cover the United States through satellites

Mike Sievert, le PDG de T-Mobile et Elon Musk lors de l'annonce jeudi du partenariat depuis la base de SpaceX à Boca Chica au Texas.

Sending a text message from the depths of Arizona, or even watching a video in the middle of the Pacific off Hawaii? This will be possible by the end of 2023 in the United States, at least for a good part of T-Mobile customers. The American operator, a subsidiary of the German giant Deutsche Telekom, has just concluded a partnership with SpaceX, the space subsidiary of Elon Musk, which will allow its subscribers to connect their smartphones with the approximately 3,000 satellites of the Starlink constellation launched in the world. space by Tesla boss. They will thus be able to communicate wherever 4G-5G is faulty or absent.

According to T-Mobile, approximately 1.3 million square kilometers in the United States (i.e. 13% of the territory) are located in white zones, that is to say regions with little or no coverage by traditional terrestrial telecom networks. . Connecting these areas is either unprofitable for operators, or impossible due to regulatory (for example, in protected national parks) or geographical (Death Valley desert) constraints.

30 minutes to send an SMS

With his Starlink project, Elon Musk has already promised to bring the Internet to the 5% of the world’s population who are poorly connected. Starlink subscribers pay 50 euros per month, plus a 480 euro dish that picks up the signal from the billionaire’s Starlink satellites. But this is fixed connectivity. With the partnership with T-Mobile, Elon Musk enters the world of mobile. There, no additional equipment will be needed. “There will no longer be any white zone in the world for your phone” already promises Elon Musk.

Admittedly, the signal will be nowhere near as strong as 4G-5G. Only sending and receiving SMS-MMS will be possible in several test regions, voice and data to arrive later. And the transmission may take 30 minutes! Despite this delay, Elon Musk believes that his service will be able to save lives, since it will continue to operate, including during climatic disasters such as hurricanes or snowstorms which often sweep the United States.

In the meantime, Elon Musk offers himself a powerful distribution channel with T-Mobile. The richest man on the planet needs carriers to distribute and monetize his Starlink service. The star entrepreneur has planned to invest between 5 and 10 billion dollars before the project generates its first operating profit. Once this threshold is reached, it will be necessary to double or even triple the investment to stay in the race, i.e. 20 to 30 billion dollars, as Elon Musk explained last year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, ​​​​the appointment you world of telecoms.

Emergency texting while driving a Tesla

But at this stage, Starlink has attracted “only” 500,000 customers in 32 countries. The partnership with T-Mobile therefore gives it a boost. The American operator has 110 million fixed and mobile customers, according to its latest results. But T-Mobile explained that the offer with SpaceX would be included in almost all packages, only customers of the cheapest packages having to pay an additional cost. In addition, the service will also be available for owners of Tesla cars, for example for emergency SMS.

After this partnership, Elon Musk does not intend to stop there. The South African and T-Mobile have launched an invitation to other operators around the world who would like to collaborate with them on this global connectivity project. The American operator has even said it is ready to offer them roaming, so that their customers can connect to its network during their trips to the United States.