SpaceX agreed a deal with Optus to deliver mobile connectivity using its Starlink satellites starting in late 2024, a deal which includes long-term plans to cover 100 per cent of Australia’s landmass.
The duo will begin to roll out direct-to-mobile satellite services starting with SMS, before launching voice and data services in late 2025.
SpaceX’s partnership with Optus appears to mirror a deal with T-Mobile US: Luke Pearce, senior analyst at CCS Insight, stated it is the company’s only direct-to-mobile move beyond that earlier agreement.
“This shows us that SpaceX is serious about its direct-to-mobile offering and will compete globally against the likes of AST SpaceMobile and Lynk Global,” he said.
SpaceX has other deals in place with operators including KDDI in Japan, and Netlinks and Telstra in Australia.
Optus stated the agreement will help it expand the reach of customers’ mobile connectivity to include 60 per cent of Australia’s landmass that currently has no coverage.
MD for marketing and revenue, Matt Williams, explained “Australia’s vastness and terrain can make it difficult for any operator to provide mobile coverage everywhere where it is needed, especially in remote or hard-to-reach locations”.
He hailed the deal as a “truly innovative model for Australia, connecting satellites to standard mobile phones and a significant evolution beyond the services SpaceX has provided in Australia to date”.
CCS Insight’s Pearce added SpaceX will provide the service through its V2 constellation of Starlink satellites which began to launch in April, rather than its existing birds.
“This announcement continues to favour the trend towards proprietary satellite constellations over those based on a standards-based 3GPP 5G non terrestrial network”.