Optus has announced a partnership with Starlink that will see the telco offer coverage to almost 100% of Australia.
When the Optus network isn't available, Optus mobile customers will be able to connect to Starlink satellites to get a basic level of service. The upcoming next-generation satellites will broadcast using mobile spectrum, which means Optus customers will be able to use their existing phones without the need for any special equipment. A clear view of the sky is still necessary, however.
The service is set to launch in late 2024, and will allow users to send and receive text messages when they don't have mobile coverage. The ability to make calls and use mobile internet will follow in late 2025.
While the Optus network covers 98.5% of the population, 60% of Australia's land mass currently has no coverage. The only parts of Australia where Optus' Starlink-based connectivity won't be available are the Radio Quiet Zone in Western Australia (where no service is permitted) and remote offshore territories and islands.
Optus will provide further information on accessing the service closer to launch.
Starlink first announced its initiative to end mobile blackspots toward the end of last year. It's working on similar initiatives with T-Mobile in the US, and One (the telco formerly known as Vodafone) in New Zealand.
Optus isn't the only Australian telco with a Starlink partnership. Telstra last week announced a deal with Starlink that will allow it to sell home phone and internet plans powered by the satellite service.
At this stage, Telstra isn't collaborating with Starlink for coverage, but it is working with another satellite provider to upgrade the capacity of its regional towers.