SpaceX launched 21 Starlink satellites into Generation 2 Group 7 on 2024-01-03 at 03:44 UTC. The launch was from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The first stage booster, B1082, was brand new and making its first flight.
This launch included the first six Starlink satellites equipped for direct to mobile phone communications. SpaceX announced:
This launch included the first six Starlink satellites with Direct to Cell capabilities that enable mobile network operators around the world to provide seamless global access to texting, calling, and browsing wherever you may be on land, lakes, or coastal waters without changing hardware or firmware. The enhanced Starlink satellites have an advanced modem that acts as a cellphone tower in space, eliminating deadzones with network integration similar to a standard roaming partner.
Global cellular providers using Direct to Cell to gain reciprocal access in all partner nations include T-Mobile in the U.S., Rogers in Canada, KDDI in Japan, Optus in Australia, One NZ in New Zealand, Salt in Switzerland, and Entel in Chile and Peru.