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Snapdragon Satellite a Flop with Phone Makers

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Nov 10, 2023, 5:12 PM   by Rich Brome

Qualcomm and Iridium have officially terminated their agreement to provide global satellite connectivity for phones via the Snapdragon Satellite service announced and demonstrated in January. Although the companies successfully developed and tested the technology, "smartphone manufacturers have not included the technology in their devices." In a statement to CNBC, Qualcomm said phone makers have "indicated a preference towards standards-based solutions". Bullitt announced a competing service at the same time as Qualcomm, and its solution is standards-based. NTN (non-terrestrial networks) is that technology, which is part of the 3GPP release 17 standard. Qualcomm's solution had other limitations that may have hindered its adoption, such as needing to aim your phone as a specific part of the sky, even to check for incoming messages. Freed from its deal with Qualcomm, Iridium will continue to pursue other opportunities for providing satellite connectivity for ordinary consumer phones. Apple provides a more limited satellite service (for emergencies only), in partnership with GlobalStar. All of these services require new phones specifically designed to support satellite connectivity. In contrast, T-Mobile and AT&T have announced deals with SpaceX and AST SpaceMobile, respectively, to deploy new satellites with giant antennas that can connect directly to existing phones. Both approaches will provide some form of basic connectivity (texting, generally) where there is no cellular service.



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