KDDI and SpaceX Partner for Remote Cellular Service in Japan

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KDDI Corporation and SpaceX have announced a groundbreaking partnership to provide satellite-to-cellular service in Japan.

Utilizing SpaceX’s Starlink low-earth orbit satellites and KDDI’s national wireless spectrum, the collaboration aims to extend cellular connectivity to remote areas, including islands and mountainous regions, which are currently beyond the reach of traditional 4G and 5G networks.

The companies share a vision of “connecting the unconnected,” and this new initiative will enable cellular coverage in areas previously unreachable by any provider. “This new dimension of connectivity will turn on areas previously unreachable by cell signals from any provider,” the companies stated.

The service is set to commence with SMS text services as early as 2024 and will eventually expand to include voice and data services. Importantly, almost all existing smartphones on the KDDI network will be compatible with this new offering, as it will leverage the devices’ existing radio services.

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KDDI and SpaceX are also inviting carriers worldwide to join this innovative ecosystem, aiming to bring next-generation, satellite-enabled connectivity to a global customer base.

The rollout of this service is contingent upon the establishment of radio-related laws and regulations in Japan.

Recently, SpaceX Starlink hardware kits started hitting the shelves of Costco in Japan, the first time the product has hit a physical retailer.