Qualcomm Enters Sat-to-Phone Market
Qualcomm entered the satellite-to-phone ring via a partnership with satellite provider Iridium and a new Snapdragon Satellite offering for premium Android smartphones. Snapdragon Satellite will provide global connectivity using mobile messaging from around the world1, starting with devices based on the flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Platform.
The company selected Iridium because its LEO satellites have been deployed for 25 years and because the birds can provide pole-to-pole coverage even across oceans. “There are 66 satellites in LEO orbit, and they cover pretty much the globe,” Grilli stated. “Unlike other systems that are already available, this system has inter-satellite links. Each satellite is talking to one satellite in the front, one in the back, and one east and west,” said Francisco Grilli, vice president for product management at Qualcomm.
Nine additional birds in orbit are available to step in if any of the active satellites fail. The initial plan is for service providers to use Snapdragon Satellite for two-way emergency messaging in North America and Europe, which is similar to what Apple launched late last year. Using non-terrestrial L-band and S-band antennas, the service will evolve to SMS texting and other messaging applications and become available on lower-end devices sometime next year. The service uses Iridium’s L-band spectrum for uplink and downlink.
Some OEMs already have their hands on Snapdragon Satellite. Garmin will provide support for the emergency messaging service. Qualcomm is taking the lead on working with the OEMs and service providers that will in turn market the service to consumers and businesses. The service is approved wherever Iridium is already approved since the Snapdragon Satellite-enabled devices will behave like existing Iridium devices. US Federal Communications Commission certification will follow the same process used by current Iridium satellite devices. Qualcomm plans to add Snapdragon Satellite to other devices such as laptops, tablets, vehicles, and IoT devices.