While Elon Musk burns twitter to the ground, his team at SpaceX are by far and away the most exciting of his investments doing big things here in Australia with Telco deals left right and centre.

Just days after Telstra announced they would be retailing the SpaceX Starlink Satellite Internet service across Australia, Optus has come out with an announcement of their own with SpaceX and Starlink.

The announcement states that “Optus, in collaboration with SpaceX, which designs, manufactures and launches some of the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft, today announced an agreement to deliver mobile connectivity using SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation. Together, Optus and SpaceX plan to cover 100% of Australia”

Optus already provide mobile coverage to 98.5% of the population, but while that seems huge, it leaves 60-70% range of Australia without service.

There’s a huge push toward Satellite connectivity in the telco space, with Apple’s Emergency SOS the first formal launch, but bigger things coming with regard to the future of 5G and potential for new devices to have advanced Satellite capabilities.

The space-race here in Australia appears to being led by Optus who already operate their own Geo-Stationary satellites – announcing this SpaceX collaboration.

It’s EFTM’s understanding that this Mobile based service will not use the existing range of Starlink Satellites swooping around us in low-earth orbit. Instead, a new set of Satellites, potentially all new Starlink launches will have this enhanced capability.

Regardless, Optus looks set to launch 100% coverage SMS service in late 2024, with Voice and Data to come later in 2025.

Optus’ Matt Williams says “Optus has always thought differently about what it means to deliver connectivity to our customers, and today we proudly provide mobile coverage to 98.5% of Australia’s population through our existing network.

“However, 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.  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. It will create a unique experience for Optus customers.”

For their part, SpaceX’s Senior Director of Satellite Engineering, Sara Spangelo, says  “We share Optus’ vision to improve connectivity across Australia. The connectivity pairs SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation with Optus’ mobile network to transmit directly to mobile phones across the country.

“We’re excited to collaborate with Optus and offer a solution to expand coverage and help keep customers connected regardless of where they live or travel,” added Dr. Spangelo.

Pretty exciting stuff, not least for emergency situations, let alone remote travel.