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Optus Plans Sat-to-Cell Service in Australia With Starlink

By Mark Holmes | July 12, 2023
Photo: Government of South Australia.

Photo: Government of South Australia

Starlink will play a pivotal role in expanding connectivity throughout Australia. Optus, one of Australia’s leading telcos and satellite providers, signed a deal with SpaceX to deliver mobile connectivity using the Starlink satellite constellation to cover 100% of Australia.

Optus said in a July 12 announcement that it will enable satellite direct-to-cell service with Starlink starting with SMS messages in late 2024, with voice and data to follow in late 2025. This will expand Optus coverage to include the 60% of Australia’s land mass that currently has no mobile coverage.

“Our work with SpaceX aims to bring the coverage capabilities of satellites direct to compatible mobile handsets without the need for customers to buy additional equipment. This partnership builds on our proud history of satellite innovation in Australia. This is a truly innovative model for Australia – connecting satellites to standard mobile phones – and a significant evolution beyond the services SpaceX has provided in Australia to date. It will create a unique experience for Optus customers,” Matt Williams Optus’ Managing Director, Marketing and Revenue, said in a statement.

Sara Spangelo, SpaceX senior director of Satellite Engineering said the connectivity pairs Starlink with Optus’ mobile network to transmit directly to mobile phones across the country. The new satellite-to-phone coverage will be extensively tested before launch.

This is a new satellite-to-cell deal for SpaceX, which announced last year that it is working with T-Mobile to offer satellite-to-cell service in the U.S. with the second generation of its Starlink constellation. At the time, SpaceX indicated it would partner with other mobile network operators for spectrum in other countries.