SpaceX would like to provide internet to smartphones with its Starlink satellites | TechBuzz

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SpaceX, future mobile phone operator? The company is working on the possibility of connecting smartphones directly to its satellites.

After homes, caravans, ships and planes, smartphones will undoubtedly be the next step for Starlink. Documents sent to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at the end of July reveal a clear interest from SpaceX for a service extended to mobile users. But that would require deploying new satellites in space.

The constellation currently operated by the American company mobilizes antennas that work on certain specific frequency bands, quite “high” in the electromagnetic spectrum. But linking with smartphones requires another significantly lower range. Accordingly, material adjustments are necessary.

Starlink caravane camping-car
A Starlink dish installed next to a motorhome. // Source: Starlink
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Thus, Starlink’s dishes communicate with satellites through the Ku band, which extends from 12 to 18 gigahertz (GHz), for both uplink and downlink. In the case of a connection with a smartphone, the communication would take place on a much lower portion, on the edge of the L and S bands. We are talking about a frequency of 2 GHz.

New frequencies, and new satellites

It is at this level that frequencies are commonly used to carry mobile communications, including in France. For example, operators such as Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free Mobile use 1.8 and 2.1 GHz frequencies to offer 4G and 5G to their customers. Other services, other than mobile telephony, also use these frequencies.

« Americans are increasingly demanding connectivity wherever they are, whenever they want, and whatever they do said David Goldman, senior director of satellite policy at SpaceX. ” In particular, they have become accustomed to being able to connect using small handheld devices that they can carry with them or affix to mobile platforms. »

smartphone
SpaceX would see itself establishing a direct link with smartphones. // Source: Unsplash/Adrien (cropped photo)
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The request made to the American organization must still be approved. It is the FCC’s mission to ensure the exploitation of electromagnetic waves across the Atlantic, by ensuring, among other things, that such and such an actor does not disturb the other parties – and we had an example of this with the arrival of 5G, which somewhat alarmed the aviation sector in the USA.

In 2021, SpaceX had already begun to prepare the ground for an extension of its services to mobile telephony. Indeed, the company acquired the company Swarm Technologies, which intended to provide low-cost Internet connectivity through nanosatellites in orbit. Among other things, Swarm Tech wanted to connect connected objects of all kinds.

Accessing telephony or surfing the Internet directly through satellites is a prospect that SpaceX is not the only one to have in mind. Other companies, like Qualcomm, Thales and Ericsson, caress a similar vision. These three groups have also joined forces for a project aimed at enabling the use of 5G anywhere in the world thanks to a satellite constellation.

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Source : Numerama



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