Australian telco Optus has announced an agreement with SpaceX to deliver mobile connectivity across the vast landscapes of Australia using SpaceX's Starlink satellite constellation, covering 100 percent of the country's territory.
Extending coverage to remote regions
With its existing network, Optus currently provides mobile coverage to 98.5 percent of Australia's population. Optus has stated that it is difficult for any operator to provide complete nationwide mobile coverage due to challenging terrain and hard-to-reach remote locations. Recognizing this, Optus has joined forces with SpaceX to utilize their satellite technology, specifically the Starlink satellite constellation, to bridge the connectivity gap.
Phased rollout and timeline
Through the collaboration, Optus plans to extend mobile connectivity to the remaining 60 percent of Australia's land mass that currently lacks coverage. Optus said this ambitious goal will be achieved through a phased rollout of SpaceX's satellite capability, beginning with the introduction of SMS services from late 2024. Voice and data services are expected to follow, with an estimated launch date in late 2025.
What sets this partnership apart is its aim to directly connect satellites to standard mobile handsets, eliminating the need for customers to purchase additional equipment. This approach promises to create a unique and seamless experience for Optus customers.
According to the official release, extensive testing will be conducted to ensure the reliability and effectiveness of this new satellite-to-phone coverage before its official launch. As the availability date approaches, Optus will provide more detailed information regarding coverage characteristics and accessibility.
The Optus-SpaceX collaboration represents a leap forward in expanding mobile coverage across Australia, addressing the challenges posed by the country's vast and diverse landscapes. However, it should be noted that satellite coverage requires a clear line of sight to most of the sky.