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SpaceX crosses milestone: Demos first Starlink Direct to Cell satellite video call

The phones being used in the test were unmodified.
By

Published onMay 21, 2024

Android satellite messaging settings
Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • SpaceX just crossed a major milestone with its Direct to Cell satellite service.
  • The company demonstrated an unmodified phone making a successful video call with the service.
  • Direct to Cell is expected to launch later this year.

Since 2022, SpaceX has been working on launching a satellite phone service, which is scheduled to roll out in 2024. On that path, it has partnered with T-Mobile and other international carriers to bring the service to customers. Now the company has just passed a major milestone in the service’s development.

On X (formerly Twitter), the Elon Musk-owned entity shared a post with a video. In that video is a SpaceX employee hosting a video call on X with another SpaceX employee. What makes this particularly notable is that the video call is being done on an unmodified phone connected to Direct to Cell, making it the first video call on the service.

First video call on @X completed through @Starlink Direct to Cell satellites from unmodified mobile phones!
We’re excited to go live with @TMobile later this year 🛰️🌎 pic.twitter.com/v4nA5B75EX
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 21, 2024

Just two months ago, SpaceX sent a letter to the FCC boasting that the service was “meeting or exceeding testing objectives.” Although the call on the phone using Direct to Cell is a little blurry, it’s clear that the service works just fine during this test.

When Direct to Cell eventually launches later this year, it will first support texting only. Voice and data are expected to follow in 2025.

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