Optus recently announced a new agreement with Elon Musk led Starlink, as more Australian telco's join the race to improve their network offering across Australia via satellite services. Telstra has also announced its own deal with Starlink, which will begin much sooner than Optus. However, it will only cover fixed addresses.
According to the telco, Optus currently provides coverage to 98.5% of Aussies. However, due to Australia’s size, mobile networks only cover roughly one-third of our total land mass. This means that many parts of the country have never had mobile coverage. But with the help of Starlink’s satellites, you’ll be able to get mobile phone coverage from anywhere in Australia that has a clear line of sight to the sky.
As mentioned by Matt Williams, Optus’ Managing Director, Marketing and Revenue, “Australia’s vastness and terrain can make it difficult for any operator to provide mobile coverage everywhere it is needed – especially in remote or hard-to-reach locations.”
“Our work with SpaceX aims to bring the coverage capabilities of satellites direct to compatible mobile handsets without the need for customers to buy additional equipment,” Williams said. “This partnership builds on our proud history of satellite innovation in Australia.”
“This is a truly innovative model for Australia – connecting satellites to standard mobile phones – and a significant evolution beyond the services SpaceX has provided in Australia to date.”
Mr Williams said its deal with Starlink was intended to be a new product aimed at mobile phone customers, who he said would not require a new device to connect to the service when they left an area with signal from ground towers.
It won’t happen overnight, however. According to the official announcement, Optus plans to start its Starlink service capacity for text messages in late 2024 before expanding to voice and internet towards the end of 2025. It has not announced how fast the connections will be, except that they will be transmitted via the last generation 4G system, or their pricing.