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First SpaceX Satellites Launch Direct to Cell Service with T-Mobile

T-Mobile Media Release | Jan 3, 2024

HAWTHORNE, Calif. — January 3, 2024 — 3…2…1…Lift off! Today, T-Mobile announced that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched the first set of Starlink satellites with Direct to Cell capabilities, following the livestreamed webcast last night. This is a significant milestone following last year’s joint announcement of the Coverage Above and Beyond initiative, which aims to bring connectivity nearly everywhere in the U.S. for Un-carrier customers — even in many of the most remote locations previously unreachable by traditional cell signals from any provider … aka dead zones. Now that the satellites are in low-Earth orbit, field testing can soon begin on the new service that will leverage SpaceX’s constellation of satellites with Direct to Cell technology and T-Mobile’s industry-leading wireless network.

“Our mission is to be the best in the world at connecting customers to their world and today is another step forward in keeping our customers connected even in the most remote locations for added peace of mind when they need it most,” said Mike Katz, President of Marketing, Strategy and Products, T-Mobile. “Today’s launch is a pivotal moment for this groundbreaking alliance with SpaceX and our global partners around the world, as we work to make dead zones a thing of the past.” 

With well over half a million square miles of the U.S. and vast stretches of ocean unreachable by terrestrial network coverage, due to terrain limitations, land-use restrictions and more, this new service aims to give customers a crucial additional layer of connectivity when and where they need it most. With the new service, the goal is to eliminate worrying about mobile dead zones and lugging around expensive satellite phones — Un-carrier customers would be connected nearly everywhere they can see the sky, and in most cases, with the phone they already have.  

Today marks the first of many Starlink satellite launches to come that will include Direct to Cell capabilities. Initially, the service will begin with text messaging, with voice and data coverage to follow in the coming years.  

“The launch of these first Direct to Cell satellites is an exciting milestone for SpaceX to demonstrate our technology,” said Dr. Sara Spangelo, Sr. Director of Satellite Engineering. “We look forward to rapidly scaling up Direct to Cell with our partner operators around the world and rolling out messaging service for T-Mobile customers!” 

T-Mobile and SpaceX’s shared vision is to provide truly universal coverage and last year, they issued an open invitation to wireless providers worldwide to expand globally with reciprocal roaming. As of today, five wireless providers are already onboard to launch Direct to Cell technology including KDDI (Japan), Optus (Australia), One NZ (New Zealand), Rogers (Canada) and others, with more to come. And the invitation still stands for any carrier with the shared goal of global connectivity to join. Additional details on the alliance and for those interested in joining can be found at direct.starlink.com.  

For more details at T-Mobile, head to t-mobile.com/coverage/network.  

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Some uses may require certain plan or feature; see T-Mobile.com. 

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements 

This communication contains certain forward-looking statements, including T-Mobile’s plans to increase cell phone coverage while utilizing Starlink, and offer such coverage to its customers. Forward-looking information is based on management’s estimates, assumptions and projections, and is subject to significant uncertainties and other factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control. Important risk factors could cause actual future results and other future events to differ materially from those currently estimated by management, including, but not limited to: the time and costs relating to building out the network. 

About T-Mobile US, Inc. 

T-Mobile US, Inc. (NASDAQ: TMUS) is America’s supercharged Un-carrier, delivering an advanced 4G LTE and transformative nationwide 5G network that will offer reliable connectivity for all. T-Mobile’s customers benefit from its unmatched combination of value and quality, unwavering obsession with offering them the best possible service experience and undisputable drive for disruption that creates competition and innovation in wireless and beyond. Based in Bellevue, Wash., T-Mobile provides services through its subsidiaries and operates its flagship brands, T-Mobile, Metro by T-Mobile and Sprint. For more information please visit: https://www.t-mobile.com

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