US Tesla drivers will eventually be able to make emergency calls and texts from areas without phone signal, following an expansion of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite service.
Tesla electric cars will soon be able to connect to Starlink – a network of a few thousand communications satellites operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company – for placing emergency phone calls and texts.
From 2023, the Starlink service – which delivers internet services – will expand to allow users to make calls and texts from their phone in remote areas of the US, where traditional phone service can’t reach.
Designed to “[eliminate] dead zones worldwide”, the service will launch with mobile phones – but Elon Musk has confirmed it will eventually expand to Tesla cars.
On Twitter over the weekend, Musk replied “Yes” to users asking if Tesla vehicles will be able to connect to Starlink for “emergency calls and texts” – and if such a system would form part of Tesla’s Premium Connectivity subscription, which costs $9.99 per month in Australia.
While the system would facilitate calls and texts where traditional phone service is not available, its speed – closer to older 3G phone signal, rather than the 4G and 5G services widespread today – means it won’t be ideal for internet browsing.
It may not be able to support the car’s navigation system, either – however this is yet to be confirmed.
Tesla cars currently rely on traditional 4G data networks for internet access, music streaming, and navigation – running on the AT&T network in the US, or a different provider in Australia.
Meanwhile, the Starlink phone service would only be available for US customers on the T-Mobile network.
Starlink is compatible with existing phones, and uses part of T-Mobile’s existing 5G cell network to operate (but allows for access where there is no phone coverage).
While there’s no indication the Starlink phone service will come to Australia – or local Tesla cars – the internet version of the service is available here, pitched at recreational vehicle (RV) owners that venture to remote areas.
Currently available for the lower half of Australia – but soon to expand across the country early next year – it allows for remote internet access at NBN-like speeds in remote areas, though only when stationary.
The ‘modem’ needed to connect to the service can be ordered for less than $1100 (including delivery) – followed by a monthly $174 fee for an unlimited data subscription.