When will smartphones get satellite calling capabilities?

When will smartphones get satellite calling capabilities?

One of the most exciting things Apple has done with the new iPhone 14 is to include a satellite connection for use in emergencies in the US and Canada. While the audience for this type of messaging service may be small, serious adventurers who love hiking in the backcountry and boating enthusiasts who, when boating or boating, are often out of range of cellular service, applauded. this move. It is also valuable to the military and emergency services when connections are needed in areas where cellular calls are not available.

Minutes after Apple’s announcement of this new feature, I started seeing tweets and comments about the idea of ​​Apple eventually adding satellite calling features to the iPhone in the near future.

Autonomous satellite phones have been available for decades, but are almost always used in special circumstances. For example, the US military has used satellite phones on the battlefield and in remote areas for decades.

As mentioned above, satellite phones have been used for communications on the high seas and within many types of emergency services where cellular connections are not available.

Dedicated satellite phones can cost anywhere from $500.00 to over $1,500 depending on features. However, the biggest problem with satellite phones is the cost per minute. With cell phones, voice calls are cheap and unlimited on most carrier services. However, satellite phone calls can cost anywhere from $1.25 per minute to more than $10 per minute, depending on the person’s location.

The Wall Street Journal he recently wrote a story about this and expressed skepticism about the ability to see satellite voice calls integrated into smartphones anytime soon.

“The stakes are high in such a gamble for satellite companies that typically spend several billion dollars each just to launch their networks. The potential rewards of reaching even a small portion of the more than six The world’s billion smartphones are equally rich, assuming companies can make their services work on a global scale.

Several other satellite companies are trying to grab a piece of the cellular market. SpaceX, the rocket company, led by entrepreneur Elon Muskin August he said he will join T-Mobile USA Inc. to make its Starlink service compatible with the US cell phone carrier’s network. The companies said they would start testing the service before the end of 2023.

“Personally, I’m a little skeptical,” says Iridium CEO Matt Desch, saying these seamless connections “are not a service the public will see for at least a few years.” A more feasible target, he says, includes satellite-based texting that works just as well on a smartphone as it does on the specialized satellite phones available today.”

While exploring the idea of ​​incorporating satellite voice calls into a smartphone, it became clear that while it has potential, it’s not something we’ll see anytime soon. Elon Musk wants to offer it through a partnership with Starlink and TMobile by the end of 2023, but a lot has to happen for this to happen.

I was at an event recently where Umayr Javed, General Council of the FCC, took the floor. I asked him what it would take to bring satellite communications to smartphones. He responded that it would have to go through FCC regulatory scrutiny and new spectrum assignments. He also noted that other countries have dedicated spectrum for satellite voice communications, and it will be necessary to develop cross-spectrum technology and partnerships around the world to offer a global service.

I also spoke with an OEM that makes smartphones. They noted that adding the specialized radio and electronics needed to power these satellite calls would add at least another $200-$300 to the retail price of a satellite-enabled smartphone.

The FCC’s Mr. Javed said they see a significant business opportunity for satellite companies and smartphone manufacturers to add satellite calling to smartphones at some point in the future.

Although the audience for these types of smartphones with satellite calls will be smaller, there will be many businesses and even some consumers for whom a satellite connection on a smartphone makes sense and will be worth the extra expense. However, it will never be for a mass market as cellular connections around the world will suffice for most smartphone users.

A satellite voice connection is likely to be added to smartphones. However, don’t expect it anytime soon.

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