SpaceX and T-Mobile are encouraging other carriers to adopt “reciprocal roaming” and spectrum sharing. For Android to provide native support, adoption should increase.
SpaceX and T-Mobile announced last week that they were working on bringing satellite connectivity to smartphones, and Google said today the next version of Android (14) will “support our partners in enabling all of this.”
Google’s Next Android 14 Phone
“The user experience for phones that connect to satellites will be different from regular LTE and 5G connections,” Lockheimer writes. “As far as speed, connectivity, and even interaction time are concerned, expect mobile networks to have ‘only two to four megabits of bandwidth per cellular zone,’ as Space Explored noted last week. A satellite connection could support ‘one to two thousand simultaneous voice calls or hundreds of thousands of text messages that could be sent,’ Musk says.
Wild to think about user experiences for phones that can connect to satellites. When we launched G1 in '08 it was a stretch to get 3G + Wifi working. Now we're designing for satellites. Cool! Excited to support our partners in enabling all of this in the next version of Android!— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) September 1, 2022
T-Mobile Satellite Connectivity
Satellite connectivity is primarily aimed at reducing dead zones in smartphones’ networks in emergencies, rather than for messaging, MMS, or “select messaging apps.” T-Mobile will support (text) messaging, MMS, and even “select messaging apps” (text messaging, MMS, and even “select messaging apps” are among the possibilities). In order to ensure proper messaging traffic separation, T-Mobile will begin this work in the future. Smartphones in the long-term will provide data and voice, although no work has yet been started. Late 2023 is the target date for initial beta testing of this service.
The experience, especially the end-user one, should benefit from additional OS-level support on existing iPhone and Android devices, but T-Mobile and SpaceX are encouraging other carriers to adopt “reciprocal roaming” and spectrum sharing. Android should provide native support as adoption increases.