Android smartphone users would have to wait longer before they can access satellite-based emergency communication. US-based chipmaker Qualcomm’s partnership with Iridium has reportedly come to an end. Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon Satellite earlier in 2023. This partnership was made to bring two-way satellite connectivity to smartphones for emergencies. The technology would’ve allowed phones to send and receive messages for situations where there isn’t any cellular network in range.
For satellite connectivity, the chipmaker had plans to use Iridium’s constellation of low-earth orbit satellites. With the end of this partnership, the satellite connectivity feature might not arrive for smartphones that will come powered by the Snapdragon chipsets. Qualcomm and Iridium’s partnership for two-way satellite connectivity has ended abruptly.
Why Qualcomm ended its partnership with Iridium
Iridium recently shared a press release to announce that it has successfully developed a satellite-based communication feature for phones in collaboration with Qualcomm. The company has also successfully demonstrated the technologies. However, the chipmaker decided to end the agreement as phone brands did not use the feature.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip already supports the Snapdragon Satellite technology. However, it can be activated on phones only when manufacturers add extra antenna hardware to their devices.
In a statement to CNBC, Qualcomm said that smartphone brands prefer using standard-based two-way satellite connectivity. Therefore, they’re not planning to bring Qualcomm’s proprietary technology to their devices. This is the reason for the chipmaker to stop the development of this feature in collaboration with Iridium.
However, with this agreement with Qualcomm coming to an end, Iridium will have the possibility to partner directly with smartphone brands, other chipset makers and OS developers.
Multiple smartphone makers, service providers and satellite companies have partnered on similar projects. This includes Apple, Iridium, SpaceX, AT&T, T-Mobile, AST SpaceMobile and more.
iPhone maker Apple is also heavily invested in providing its “Emergency SOS with Satellite” service. The company rolled out this service during the launch of its iPhone 14 models in 2022.
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