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The area race for the mobile phones

Young satellite companies say they’re on the precipice of blanketing the earth with cellphone service.

Why it matters: Should they succeed, their technology could eliminate dead zones and offer more reliable coverage to thousands of people.

Driving the news headlines: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert late the other day announced plans to start out delivering service through SpaceX’s Starlink by the finish of next year in the usa.

  • Only text and certain messaging capabilities will undoubtedly be available in the start, with the purpose of adding voice and data down the road.
  • Weve all find out about somebody who was hiking, got lost, or died of thirst or exposure, Musk said through the announcement event, adding that service can help in those forms of situations.

How it operates: New satellites built with larger and much more powerful antennas will grab signals from cellphones directly, instead of counting on cell towers.

  • Sievert described the vision as putting cell towers in the sky, but “a whole lot harder.”
  • The partnership would effectively enable cellphones to accomplish what satellite phones can perform, Jon Peha, former FCC chief technologist and professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, tells Axios.
  • “They’re no more separate devices. It’s one device that does both,” he said.

State of play: AST SpaceMobile and Lynk are other major competitors attempting to make cell coverage direct from space possible.

  • Project Kuiper, from Amazon, is dealing with Verizon on an attempt to supply rural communities with wireless coverage via a large number of satellites.
  • Rumors may also be swirling that Apple may be set to announce its direct-to-satellite iPhone partnership with Globalstar in a few days.

What they’re saying: “The people is now less and less tolerant to be disconnected,” AT&T CEO John Stankey told Axios within an interview. “There is a market on the market to help keep people connected on a regular basis.”

  • Stankey declined to talk about information regarding any plans from AT&T, but added, “I believe we’ll start to see the market develop where there is a selection of different alternatives and solutions.”

The best goal would be to offer high-speed mobile access to the internet via satellite.

  • “Nobody company or perhaps a amount of these businesses [will] have the ability to meet all of the needs,” Peha said.

The intrigue: With SpaceX dominating the rocket launch industry at this time, “co-opetition” could drive success for several players.

  • “We’re glad they [SpaceX and T-Mobile] show focus on this, but we always thought this is going to be considered a multiple party market,” AST chief strategy officer Scott Wisniewski tells Axios. “This is simply not successful take all market given what size it really is.”

What’s next: SpaceX and T-Mobile will require regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission because of their plans.

Editor’s note: This short article has been corrected to reflect that Musk is CEO of SpaceX, not just a co-founder.

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