How T-Mobile and SpaceX are teaming up to give you coverage from space

The age of the cellular dead zone may be ending.

T-Mobile is partnering with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to offer wireless phone service in remote parts of the U.S. where coverage is spotty. Photographer: Jordan Vonderhaar/Bloomberg (Jordan Vonderhaar/Bloomberg)
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Driving down a lonely stretch of highway. Trekking through verdant backcountry. Waiting out a severe storm.

These are all situations where traditional cell service can quickly falter, or disappear entirely. But if T-Mobile and SpaceX get their way, cellular dead zones may finally go extinct, in the United States anyway.

Last week, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert and SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced a partnership that promises to offer at least some degree of cellular service “practically everywhere in the continental U.S., Hawaii, parts of Alaska, Puerto Rico and territorial waters.”

T-Mobile partners with SpaceX in effort to end cellphone dead zones

At first, the service will focus on letting people send text messages from anywhere they have a clear view of the sky. And in time, Sievert said T-Mobile will work on using that new network for voice calls and data connections.

“It’s going to massively improve people’s convenience and it’s going to save lives,” Musk said.

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert on Aug. 25 announced a partnership with SpaceX to use Starlink satellites to expand the carrier’s coverage. (Video: SpaceX)

But how will a system like this actually work? What will you have to do to use it? And who else is trying to make this work? Here’s what we know so far.

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