Starlink has announced plans to start offering messaging services from mobile phones under the service name Direct to Cell by 2024, and will add voice, internet, and IoT connectivity services by 2025. The key highlight is that the signals transmitted will be using the LTE (4G) standard, without requiring any modifications to the devices.
Previously, T-Mobile and Starlink had announced that they would be testing this service in late 2023, but this recent website announcement does not specify if the testing will be conducted as originally scheduled.
Phones using this service will see Starlink as a signal tower and will be able to use it through roaming. This approach using traditional wave frequencies requires Starlink to partner with national network providers who hold the frequency licenses. Currently, there are 6 countries where Starlink has partnered with network providers, including T-Mobile (United States), Optus (Australia), Rogers (Canada), One NZ (New Zealand), KDDI (Japan), and Salt (Switzerland).
The provision of LTE wave services through these partner licenses differs from the approach taken by the iPhone, which relies on the Globalstar satellite network and requires Globalstar to obtain frequency licenses in each country before the services can be activated.
TLDR: Starlink plans to offer messaging services via mobile phones in 2024, with voice, internet, and IoT connectivity to be added in 2025. The signals transmitted will use the LTE standard without requiring device modifications. Though testing details remain undisclosed, the service will allow phones to view Starlink as a signal tower through roaming. Starlink has partnered with network providers in 6 countries, and their service differs from iPhone’s reliance on the Globalstar satellite network.