Qualcomm’s decision to cancel its Snapdragon Satellite plans indicates that Android phones may not provide satellite connection to aid users in emergency situation scenarios anytime soon. In contrast, Apple’s iPhone 14 series already introduced satellite SOS assistance in 2015, aiming to supply help to people in areas without cellular or high speed broadband coverage.
The function allows you to send text messages to emergency situation responders, exchange your area details, and request for aid on the road. Nevertheless, soon after, there was a glimmer of hope for Android phones. Previously this year, Qualcomm revealed Snapdragon Satellite, intending to reproduce Apple’s endeavor for Android phones.
Qualcomm boasted that its new messaging service would be the first on the planet to allow two-way interaction via satellite, although it intimated that this function would be limited to pick high-end devices. The business integrated the satellite connection performance straight into phones powered by its top-of-the-line Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, making use of the onboard Snapdragon 5G Modem-RF Systems for smooth connection.
Iridium, a company based in Virginia, was accountable for handling the satellite infrastructure in collaboration with Qualcomm. Qualcomm, a chip maker, originally prepared for satellite-based emergency messaging to be offered on phones by 2023. However, this did not emerge, and it seems less likely now that Qualcomm will be involved in bringing satellite connection to Android phones in 2024.
That’s due to the fact that Qualcomm has actually nixed the Snapdragon Satellite task. “Qualcomm informed Iridium that it has chosen to terminate the arrangements, efficient December 3, 2023,” Iridium wrote in a press release. The reason behind the deal falling apart was that mobile phone makers merely did not implement the innovation provided by Qualcomm into their smart devices.
Apple isn’t the only one offering satellite connection service on mobile phones, and the world of Android isn’t completely alien to it, either. Bullit Group’s Cat S75 is an Android gadget that offers direct-to-satellite communication perk. However unlike Apple’s emergency-only technique, Bullit also lets you send out messages to anyone in your contacts list.
The Cat S75 relies on MediaTek instead of Qualcomm to enable satellite connection through its NTN chip (Non-Terrestrial Networks). However, it is important to note that satellite connection is not provided at no charge. There is an Essential plan readily available for 5 euros, which enables 30 messages every month, while the 30 euro plan increases the message limitation to 400.
Motorola enlisted Bullit Group’s assistance in producing the Motorola Defy Satellite Link, a puck that counts on Bluetooth innovation to enable any mobile phone to interact via text over a satellite connection. This long lasting device, which has an IP68 rating, likewise features a dedicated SOS button that enables users to request emergency situation assistance without requiring to link their phone.
Why Snapdragon Satellite stopped working
But why did Qualcomm’s plans pass away? Customer innovation expert Avi Greengart composed on X, formerly Twitter, that Android smartphone makers weren’t keen on a proprietary option to the phone-satellite center. However that’s precisely what Qualcomm was offering. The smart device brand names were trying to find a standards-based solution that provided them more utilize in their partnerships with satellite service suppliers like Iridium.
According to Greengart, Apple has taken the initiative to supply Emergency SOS through Satellite separately. In addition, if Apple chooses to execute charges after 2 years, it possesses a huge services platform with numerous accounts for billing. Unlike lots of other smart device producers, Apple has this distinct ability. Considering that wireless providers currently have billing connections with their consumers, they would be a perfect choice to act as intermediaries, Greengart discusses to Digital Trends.
Discussing providers, it’s still an operate in progress. Elon Musk-led SpaceX joined hands with T-Mobile in 2015, revealing that the Magenta carrier’s clients will have the ability to tap the Starlink satellite network with no unique hardware attached to their phones. Beta-testing of the service was expected to start later in 2023.
The next action for satellite on Android
SpaceX says it will enable a satellite-based texting center next year, while voice calling and web surfing functionality will go reside in 2025. T-Mobile plans to use its mid-band spectrum to develop a brand-new broadcast network that will be linked to Starlink satellites fitted with the specialized eNodeB modem that basically works like a cell tower in area.
Notably, SpaceX has actually also inked similar handle carriers in multiple nations– consisting of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Switzerland. AST SpaceMobile is also eyeing the “cellular broadband directly to your phone” center. Last month, AST Space Mobile– in collaboration with Vodafone– successfully managed the world’s first 5G voice call over a satellite network and achieved a downlink speed of 14 Mbps on a cellular broadband link.
Vodafone is receiving assistance from Amazon to expand its 4G and 5G services in Africa utilizing a satellite network from the Project Kuiper constellation that uses high bandwidth and low latency. Verizon has likewise developed a similar contract to use Amazon’s low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites. The Indian giant Jio is presently conducting tests for a gigabit web service based on satellites in numerous locations.
What’s the next action?
It is becoming clear that satellite provider (like SpaceX and Amazon) and providers will play an essential role in bringing satellite connectivity to phones, and not simply chipmakers like Qualcomm hawking custom hardware. It’s unlikely that Qualcomm was absorbing the expense of its Snapdragon Satellite modem hardware, which implies the smart device brand names had to pay a higher price for the exclusive tech.
Rather, smartphone makers are considering an approach that is based on established standards. This approach would enable them to have more flexibility in settlements by straight interacting with carriers and satellite operators. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how close we are to a future in which companies like AST SpaceMobile, who are already collaborating with T-Mobile and different other worldwide providers, can extensively expand their 5G services that connect phones directly to satellites.
“AST SpaceMobile needs about two dozen satellites for coverage in essential locations, and 90 to provide global coverage. Currently, it has two in orbit. It is prepping 5 for launch early next year,” Greengart tells DigitalTrends. “I would anticipate little trials to begin then if the launch goes well, but I do not expect total before 2025, and that depends on a good deal of things going its method.”
A more extensive analysis of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Satellite problem and the existing state of the industry can be discovered in a report from Techsponential, a company led by President Greengart.