Satellite messaging and connectivity was a major feature introduced with the iPhone 14 devices, and some Android phones followed suit. Qualcomm was expected to join with Snapdragon Satellite, but apparently that’s getting pushed back now.
The chipset maker and satellite communications company Iridium announced they are ending their deal to provide satellite-to-phone services. According to an Iridium press release, parties successfully developed and demonstrated the technology, but smartphone makers decided not to include it in their devices, leading Qualcomm to end the agreement.
The split doesn’t necessarily mean satellite connectivity is not happening. Iridium CEO said the industry is going forward with implementing tech in consumer devices. Companies like SpaceX, AT&T, and T-Mobile are already working on similar projects; for example, T-Mo users can send messages from unreachable places through SpaceX’s Starlink satellites.
Qualcomm said in a statement that smartphone companies will continue to use standard-based solutions. This means the phone will keep connecting to a cell phone tower, which is then connected to a base station, which in turn gets the signal from a high-orbit satellite.
Qualcomm launched the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 with the ability to connect to satellites, provided smartphone makers added the needed antenna hardware. Snapdragon Satellite was supposed to launch in the second half of this year, but with the deal discontinuation it’s certainly not happening.
The San Diego company will keep working with Iridium on developing current solutions, while the decision also opens the door for the sat-com company to work directly with makers.