SpaceX Signs Agreement with KDDI for Satellite-to-Phone Service in Japan via Starlink

KDDI Corporation has signed an agreement with SpaceX for a satellite-to-phone service in Japan via Starlink. Through the collaboration, the satellite will expand KDDI’s cellular connectivity to areas beyond the traditional high-powered 4G and 5G networks, including remote islands and mountains.

SpaceX and KDDI signed an agreement

KDDI Corporation, a Japanese telecommunications company, an au mobile communications operator, has signed an agreement with SpaceX to provide satellite communications services in Japan. This will be provided through the Starlink satellite service. Working in symbiosis with MNO’s national wireless spectrum across the country, the satellite will enhance KDDI’s cellular communications capabilities. This will provide coverage in areas beyond the traditional powerful 4G and 5G networks. This includes outlying islands and mountains where it was previously not possible to provide communications.

KDDI confirmed the collaboration in a press release. The Japanese telecommunications company has said that Starlink will provide an SMS messaging service in 2024. Later, voice data transmission will be provided. The company wrote:

“The companies plan to start with SMS text services as early as 2024 and will eventually provide voice and data services. Almost all existing smartphones on KDDI network will be compatible with this new service as it employs the device’s existing radio services.”

KDDI and SpaceX also issued an open invitation to others “to join the ecosystem of mobile network operators bringing next-generation satellite-enabled connectivity to their customers.”

In August 2022, T-Mobile CEO and President Mike Sievert and SpaceX CEO and Chief Engineer Elon Musk announced Coverage Above and Beyond. It is a breakthrough new plan to bring cell phone connectivity everywhere. Leveraging Starlink, SpaceX’s constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit, and T-Mobile’s industry-leading wireless network, the Un-carrier plans to provide near complete coverage in most places in the U.S.—even in many of the most remote locations previously unreachable by traditional cell signals, as described by the company. According to the plan, testing of the service was to begin in early 2023.

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