Around 20% of the land area in the USA is still a cellular dead zone with no service.
With Starlink's vision of covering the entire globe with its service, it's only natural to wonder if they offer a satellite phone service in these zones.
Does Starlink Offer Satellite Phone Service?
Starlink does not offer a standalone satellite phone service currently. However, Starlink has announced a partnership with T-mobile to offer satellite phone service to T-mobile users which will let them send texts or even calls in cellular dead zone areas.
This means a standalone phone service is not on the cards for Starlink at least in the immediate future.
Instead, they'll partner with T-mobile to offer Starlink's satellite service for texting and calling in those dead zone areas.
Starlink V2 Satellites
Starlink intends to do this with the help of its next generation of satellites which will be much larger than earlier ones with the capability to communicate with normal mobile phones.
Satellite phones are generally larger than mainstream mobile phones like the iPhone.
With this new partnership, T-mobile users will be able to use satellite phone service without any extra fee.
To make things easier, users will not need to do anything special to get this service.
All T-Mobile 5G or 4G subscribers will get access to this when it rolls out.
You'll be automatically switched to this band when you enter a cellular dead zone.
Current Satellite Phone Options in the USA
Currently, satellite phone services are extremely costly and are used only by businesses that absolutely have the need to communicate from very remote areas.
One of the most reliable and well-known satellite phone services in the USA is the Iridium satellite phone.
You need to get their hardware which costs more than a thousand dollars and also buy a really expensive pre-paid service plan.
The per-minute calling rates for satellite phones are ridiculously expensive, with a 10-minute monthly plan costing as much as $60.
That's $60 to talk for 10 minutes in a month!
This is the reason why everyone got really excited when Starlink announced a partnership with T-mobile.
Through Starlink's partnership with T-mobile, T-mobile users get satellite phone service for free and you get it on your current mobile phone.
It needs to be seen how good the service will be, but it certainly looks promising.
Starlink announced this plan only to partner with T-mobile, but it could be rolled out to other cellular services in other countries outside the USA.
Verizon has announced a similar plan with Amazon-owned Project Kuiper.
Making Calls with Starlink on Your Phone
If satellite phone service is not an option, is there anything else available?
If you have Starlink RV or Starlink residential with portability, you can make calls using Starlink internet wherever you go.
This can be done in two ways:
- WiFi calling
- VoIP calling through an app
WiFi Calling Using Starlink
With WiFi calling, you can connect your phone to the WiFi from your Starlink.
Here's how to enable WiFi calling on your iPhone.
- On your iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular.
- If your iPhone has Dual SIM, choose a line (below SIMs).
- Tap Wi-Fi Calling, then turn on Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone.
- Enter or confirm your address for emergency services.
For best results sometimes you might need to turn on airplane mode when doing WiFi calling to prevent your phone from trying to connect to cellular service.
All main US cellular carriers, such as Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile offer free WiFi calling inside the USA.
With this, you're effectively getting satellite phone service in those cellular dead zones.
Well almost. The drawback is that you need to carry your Starlink dish around to do this.
For doing this with just your iPhone, you still need to wait for Starlink's T-mobile partnership to be rolled out.
VoIP Call Using Starlink
You can make VoIP calls if you have Starlink internet using any app that supports it.
If you want a landline, my best recommendation is to get Ooma home phone service.
You just need to get their device and it's free (except for taxes) after that.
Taxes are likely to cost under $10 a month and you won't be charged for calls within the USA.
For work-related group calls, Microsoft Teams should also work well.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Does WiFi calling work with Starlink?
Yes, WiFi calling works with Starlink as long as your phone hardware and cellular service provider allow it. Almost all major US carriers allow WiFi calling service.
What are the disadvantages of Starlink?
Starlink's disadvantages include high recurring monthly fees, heavy upfront fees for hardware, latency fluctuation, and weather sensitivity. Even with these disadvantages, Starlink is a huge upgrade for users switching from other satellite internet providers.
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