SpaceX is testing Starlink, T-Mobile’s cellular service, this year

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WASHINGTON — SpaceX plans to begin testing its satellite-to-cell service, Starlink T Mobile this year, an executive at Elon Musk’s company said Monday.

“We’re going to learn a lot by doing it — not necessarily by analyzing too much — and going out there,” Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX vice president of Starlink Enterprise Sales, said at a panel at the Satellite 2023 conference in Washington, DC

The market for space-based data services directly to ground devices such as for smartphones, is widely seen as lucrative potential, with a variety of satellite companies working with terrestrial mobile network operators (MNOs) and device manufacturers to fill in coverage gaps on Earth.

SpaceX and T-Mobile announced their partnership in August, pledging to “end mobile dead spots.”

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SpaceX has launched about 4,000 Starlink satellites to date and recently launched its more powerful “V2 Mini” satellites, which are said to have four times the capacity of the previous generation.

Hofeller said Monday that SpaceX makes six satellites a day at its plant near Seattle and believes the company is no longer making its earlier Starlink 1.5 series satellites. The company also produces “thousands” of user terminals a day, he said.

While SpaceX plans to make even larger second-generation satellites and has “made a few” so far, Hofeller stressed that the launch of these is “very closely tied to Starship,” the company’s towering rocket that has yet to reach space .

SpaceX has “well over” 1 million Starlink users, Hofeller said, after exceeding that milestone in December. The company recently announced that its Starlink business “had a positive cash flow quarter” in 2022, with the company targeting the unit to “make money” in 2023.

Why Starship is essential to the future of SpaceX SpaceX is testing Starlink, T-Mobile’s cellular service, this year

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