In an event that wasn't leaked beforehand or tipped off to any insiders, T-Mobile made a big announcement last week. The company, which merged with Sprint recently, will partner with Starlink to fill in gaps within their coverage map. The coolest part? It will work with existing cell phones without the need to buy special equipment. Eli Blumenthal at CNet has more.
...with this program T-Mobile users should be able to connect to the SpaceX satellites through a "new network, broadcast from Starlink's satellites using T-Mobile's midband spectrum nationwide."
Although the company hasn't yet offered specifics on where the network will appear, T-Mobile says it should deliver "nearly complete coverage almost anywhere a customer can see the sky," with the companies envisioning this service as a replacement for using satellite phones in remote areas like a national park or in the mountains.
The carrier will start offering service through SpaceX in a beta that will take place in "select areas by the end of next year" as SpaceX launches its Starlink V2 satellites. Once operational, the network should cover the continental US as well as Hawaii, "parts" of Alaska, Puerto Rico and "territorial waters."CNet
While the connectivity will be limited to messaging at the beginning, there are plans to add voice calls to this feature. Even with just texting, think of the ways this can help in emergencies and in dead zones for people in crisis. Going from having a decent connection to No Service can happen in a flash, often without warning. Personally, I think of people who love the outdoors and will benefit from this safety net of being able to get a message out to family or authorities when there is truly no cell service available.
Given how much this is a "why didn't I think of that" idea, I can easily see Verizon and AT&T hopping on this bandwagon to do the same for their networks. They can boast about "best coverage" all they want, but the ugly truth is no carrier has 100% coverage. This very well may be the answer.