SpaceX and T-Mobile have sent and received the first text messages sent via the Starlink D2D (direct-to-device) satellites that were launched a week ago. The goal of the project, which was first revealed in August 2022, is provide satellite internet connection to regular mobile phones, so T-Mobile customers can stay online even when they’re in a no-signal zone. T-Mobile said it wants to launch text services in 2024, with voice and data services due in 2025.

The new system requires larger, special versions of the Starlink D2D satellites. SpaceX launched the first six of them on January 2. “On Monday, January 8, less than 6 days after the start, we sent and received the first text messages for unmodified cell phones… (indicating that) the system is working,” SpaceX wrote on its blog.

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert likened the new technology to putting a cell tower into orbit. He added that new technology could one day eliminate all mobile signal-free zones in the world and allow people to easily connect with loved ones even if they are in the middle of the ocean, for example.

SpaceX and T-Mobile are not the first to test such a system. In April, AT&T carried out in its network the first two-way satellite audio callin which she called a number in Japan using a Samsung Galaxy S22.