T-Mobile to Cover Continental US and Beyond with SpaceX

By Greg Tavarez, TMCnet Editor  |  September 08, 2022

LTE (News - Alert) and 5G wireless networks are currently deployed throughout cities worldwide, with 5G rollouts and expansion growing consistently as it takes over the wireless world. According to an Ericsson report, 5G mobile subscriptions will surpass 1 billion in 2022, and 5G will account for 90% of mobile subscriptions in North America within five years.

Reeling it back stateside, there are more than half a million square miles of the U.S. in addition to stretches of ocean untouched by cell signals from any provider. The wireless industry is challenged with trying to cover these areas with traditional terrestrial cellular technology because of land-use restrictions, terrain limits and the simple vastness of the American landscape.  In those areas, people are disconnected or pay high rates to carry around a satellite phone.

SpaceX and T-Mobile share a vision where these areas are covered, and the two companies announced Coverage Above and Beyond, a new plan to bring cellphone connectivity everywhere.

Leveraging Starlink, SpaceX’s (News - Alert) constellation of LEO satellites, and T-Mobile’s wireless network, the two will provide near-complete coverage to most of the U.S., even in remote locations previously unreachable by traditional cell signals.

“We’ve always thought differently about what it means to keep customers connected, and that’s why we’re working with the best to deliver coverage above and beyond anything customers have ever seen before,” said Mike Sievert, CEO of T-Mobile (News - Alert). 

The companies will create a new network, broadcast from Starlink’s satellites using T-Mobile’s mid-band spectrum nationwide. With this technology, T-Mobile will give customers text coverage almost everywhere in the continental U.S., Hawaii, parts of Alaska, Puerto Rico and territorial waters. Coverage will also be provided outside the signal of T-Mobile’s network starting with a beta in select areas after SpaceX’s planned satellite launches.

Text messaging, including SMS, MMS and participating messaging apps, will allow customers to stay connected and share experiences nearly everywhere. The companies do plan to pursue the addition of voice and data coverage.

“The important thing about this is that it means there are no dead zones anywhere in the world for your cell phone,” said SpaceX Chief Engineer Elon Musk.

Additionally, the CEOs shared their vision for expanding Coverage Above and Beyond globally, issuing an open invitation to the world’s carriers to collaborate for global connectivity. T-Mobile committed to offer reciprocal roaming to those providers working with them to enable this vision.

Edited by Erik Linask