Elon Musk just announced that the upcoming second-generation Starlink internet satellites include cellular antennas for connections with phones from T-Mobile in the US, and potentially other operators as well.
Following the event, he responded to tweets asking whether the connections will work with Tesla’s electric cars, which currently connect to AT&T’s LTE network. According to Musk, the answer is yes.
He didn’t go into detail about how it will all work or how much data owners could expect to access from the connections when they’re somewhere out of reach by terrestrial cellphone towers. Musk said during the event that the satellite-to-cellular coverage from Starlink will be capable of providing a 2 – 4 Mbps link, which is shared by everyone in the satellite’s coverage area. That likely won’t be enough for some premium connectivity features, like live-streaming video from your car’s cameras. Still, a connection that works at all, “anywhere you have a view of the sky,” is better than no connection, potentially.
In a comment to The Verge, LightShed Partners analyst Walter Piecyk pointed out that enabling access could work similarly to an MVNO like Google Fi, which uses multiple carriers as its backbone, or that Musk could change the carrier deal away from AT&T in the future.