Japanese network operator KDDI has signed an agreement with SpaceX to provide satellite-to-cellular service in Japan.
Leveraging SpaceX's Starlink low-earth-orbit satellites and the KDDI national wireless spectrum nationwide, this collaboration aims to enhance cellular connectivity in areas, including remote islands and mountains, that have been traditionally difficult to reach using conventional 4G and 5G networks.
KDDI and SpaceX share the common goal of "connecting the unconnected" to empower customers to stay connected.
Both companies plan to introduce SMS text services as early as 2024, which they will then follow with voice and data services. Almost all existing smartphones on the KDDI network will be compatible with this new service, as it employs the device's existing radio services.
KDDI and SpaceX also encourage carriers worldwide to join the ecosystem of mobile network operators in order to bring next-generation satellite-enabled connectivity to their customers.