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Starlink makes the news again

While there is not a week without news from SpaceX (7 launches in the month of January alone!), daughter-sister company Starlink is also making the headlines.

It announced on January 10th the first text message sent directly between 2 Iphones using Starlink. This service is based on a partnership with T-Mobile and will probably be available in the future to US subscribers (it uses T-Mobile spectrum). What is really a breakthrough is that this demo was conducted just one week after the launch of the first 6 satellites capable of providing this service! Further launches will complete the constellation with hundreds of new satellites to “enable text service in 2024 and voice, data, and Internet of Things (IoT) services in 2025” (caption from the Starlink WEB site). 

This demonstration marks a new milestone in the incredibly fast development of Starlink and is probably also a message to all contenders in the Direct to Device and satellite IoT market: beware, Starlink is joining the pack!

Credit; SpaceX on X (formerly Twitter)

In other news, Elon Musk announced the availability later in 2024 of the Starlink mini antenna that could fit inside a backpack (the size of a laptop). While little details are available, it is expected that the data rate will be lower than the standard antenna with less power consumption as well. This antenna will open new markets and use case, especially for on-the-go applications.

The last piece of interesting information is that John Deere, the agricultural equipment company, selected Starlink for satellite connectivity. The company launched a tender in late 2022 and after testing several solutions chose Starlink for US and Brazil. John Deere was already using cellular for its smart equipment and Starlink will complement this telecom link. While many systems are available (Iridium, Inmarsat), this choice confirms once again a general trend in M2M/IoT: the need to send more data and the need for real time.


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