Starlink Direct to Cell is SpaceX’s planned cell service—sometimes called Starlink Mobile (not to be confused with Starlink Roam or Starlink Mobile service data). At the time of writing, Direct to Cell isn’t meant to be a standalone cellular service. It’s also not a traditional satellite phone service. Instead, it’ll be a supplementary service that works with existing networks and LTE-capable phones to expand coverage into areas that are hard to reach with existing cell towers, like national parks.
Starlink is partnering with mobile operators around the world: T-Mobile in the U.S., Optus in Australia, and Rogers in Canada. At the moment, T-Mobile is the only U.S. carrier currently on board, but we doubt it’ll stay that way.
The service is not publicly available. It’s still in the initial testing phases, but things appear to be coming together. Starlink plans to roll out to consumers in 2024, with staged rollouts for texting, voice and data, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
Finally, it’s important to note that this service will be based on 4G LTE, not 5G. That means speeds will be limited—5G is potentially faster than Starlink’s satellite internet, whereas 4G LTE is not. However, it also means it’ll work with nearly every modern phone, which we assume is a main driver for this decision.