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SpaceX Transmits SMS Between Regular Smartphones Via Starlink Satellites For The First Time

The SpaceX Starlink Direct to Cell satellite cellular communication system successfully received and transmitted text messages between two unmodified smartphones. This was announced by SpaceX itself – the result was achieved less than a week after the launch of six Starlink satellites intended to work as orbital cell towers.

“On Monday, January 8, less than 6 days after launch, we sent and received the first text messages from unmodified cell phones on Earth on our new satellites in space using T-Mobile’s network spectrum,” the company said.

SpaceX did not provide data transfer rates or signal latency. The problem with sending messages through smartphones is that they have low-gain antennas and are designed to connect to ground stations, not orbital base stations.

To enable communications, SpaceX has developed special phase arrays that use high-sensitivity radios and powerful transmitters to communicate with cell phones from space.  Satellites connect to phones via LTE technology. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has allowed the company to test Ctarlink’s network in more than two dozen locations using 840 satellites.

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