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Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Android OEMs usher in era of satellite connectivity at MWC

The news: Mobile operators and smartphone companies are investing in mobile satellite connectivity to send messages or make voice calls, per Android Central.

Laying out the mobile satellite connectivity landscape: Apple introduced emergency satellite connectivity for consumers with the iPhone 14 and Globalstar’s satellite network, and now the rest of the mobile industry is following suit at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC)

  • Qualcomm announced it is working with Motorola, Nothing, Xiaomi, Vivo, OPPO, and Honor to bring its Snapdragon Satellite feature, with two-way messaging and SMS, to new models in the second half of this year.
  • It has also partnered with Iridium to bring satellite connectivity to Android and Garmin devices.
  • MediaTek debuted its MT6825 standalone chipset, which supports voice and video on 5G satellite connectivity, per Forbes.
  • Samsung is working on a standardized 5G non-terrestrial network (NTN) modem for connecting smartphones to satellites, per Space News.
  • SpaceX is looking to use Starlink’s constellation of satellites to provide direct-to-cellular connectivity in partnership with T-Mobile, per The Wall Street Journal. 

From emergency services to ubiquitous satellite connectivity: Apple’s solution is designed to access satellites for emergency connectivity and has already saved lives.

While the rest of the smartphone industry may be behind Apple by a year, the involvement of satellite providers, smartphone manufacturers, and companies like Qualcomm and MediaTek ensures expedient adoption.

Our take: Various smartphone manufacturers will integrate satellite connectivity into their flagship devices within a year, and the feature could trickle down to the midrange of the market within three to four years.

  • Satellite connectivity will be a key feature that could spur adoption of new handsets. It can also evolve into a profit center for mobile carriers looking to add subscription services.
  • The ubiquity of satellite access on commercially available smartphones could diminish the satellite messaging market led by Garmin, Spot, ACR, and Zoleo, which offer standalone two-way radios and hotspots.

(Source: Samsung)

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Connectivity & Tech Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the technology industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.