By SHELDON MOORE
At a twilight news conference, on the evening of Thursday, August 25, 2022, SpaceX Chief Engineer Elon Musk and T-Mobile CEO and President Mike Sievert announced a groundbreaking new advance in cellular communication.
A video just ahead of the event illustrated that a small portion of the globe actually enjoys cellular service. Even in the United States, thousands of square miles in such locations as the everglades and Alaska have absolutely no coverage at all. It was pointed out that remote, unserved locations are often where people are the most vulnerable and have a desperate need for what could often be lifesaving communication.
Next, Musk and Sievert took the podium, receiving a loud and enthusiastic welcoming from a large gathering of SpaceX and T-Mobile employees and a sizeable press contingent. Sievert opened the presentation asking the group to “imagine a future where you are connected no matter where you are.”
The T-Mobile CEO went on to outline a cooperative venture between SpaceX and T-Mobile to make cellular voice and messaging universal throughout the globe. He described a future where “if you have a view of the sky, you are connected.”
The project, to begin coming on line as soon as late next year, is slated to use satellites in geosynchronous orbit. Chief SpaceX Engineer Musk spoke next, describing those satellites as “not much bigger than an SUV” and having large and robust antennae to facilitate the service.
Two key economic factors that were pointed out by the pair are that most currently existing cell phones will be fully capable of using the service without any additions or adjustments and that most cell plans should be able to include the service with no additional charge.
During the press Q&A portion of the event some additional advantages of such a service came to light. It was pointed out that, during an emergency situation, say a violent storm or extreme temperature event that cripples earthbound communication, cell phone service would automatically acquire the proposed satellite system allowing critical communication with first responders.
The evening’s buzz among the press corps present was that this proposed enhanced cell coverage is potentially the biggest single advance since the inception of cell phone service itself.
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