Elon Musk announced SpaceX’s upcoming second-generation Starlink internet satellites. They include cellular antennas for connections with phones from T-Mobile. The feature will be available in the US, with a potential for other operators to participate.
Post the event where the partnership was announced, Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla cars will be able to connect to AT&T’s LTE network. He said that by replying a yes to a comment that was asking the question.
Will tesla be getting this service as well with the premium connectivity ?
— Tesla Owners Silicon Valley (@teslaownersSV) August 26, 2022
The details about how this is going to work on how much access would be given. The main idea behind the partnership is to reach terrestrial cellphone towers. The satellite-to-cellular coverage will be with Starlink providing a 2-4 Mbps link that will be shared by people under the satellite’s coverage area. Though this might not be enough for premium connectivity coverage like live streaming. It could change the way how internet access is provided. A connection that works at all, “anywhere you have a view of the sky.”
LightShed Partners analyst Walter Piecyk stated to The Verge that such technology to enable access similar to MVNOs like Google Fi. Which uses multiple carriers as its backbone in a deal with AT&T. Starlink could possibly change how the carrier deals away from AT&T in the future.
So far, Tesla has scaled back the connectivity packages that come standard with its electric vehicles. As explained here, cars purchased before the end of June 2018 include Premium Connectivity at no extra charge, while cars purchased before July 20th, 2022, all include at least the standard connectivity package with in-car maps and navigation. Those connections are available for the lifetime of the vehicle, “excluding retrofits or upgrades required for any features or services externally supplied to the vehicle.” Adding the Premium Connectivity subscription to a Tesla that doesn’t have it currently costs $9.99 per month or $99 annually.
The recent shutdown of AT&T’s 3G network showed how that can come into play, as older vehicles built prior to mid-2015 without an LTE-capable modem may have required a $200 upgrade to stay connected. For new or used electric cars purchased today from Tesla, they “will have Standard Connectivity for the remainder of the eight years from the first day your vehicle was delivered as new by Tesla, or the first day it is put into service (for example used as a demonstrator or service vehicle), whichever comes first.” As the technology is tested and implemented, it could potentially be used in many applications.