Satellite messaging and connectivity were anticipated to be major features in the upcoming iPhone 14 devices, with some Android phones expected to follow suit. However, a setback has occurred with the discontinuation of the deal between chipset maker Qualcomm and satellite communications company Iridium.
According to an Iridium press release, the partnership successfully developed and demonstrated the technology, but smartphone manufacturers ultimately decided not to include it in their devices. As a result, Qualcomm has chosen to end the agreement.
Despite this setback, the cancellation of the Qualcomm and Iridium deal does not mean that satellite connectivity is no longer progressing. Iridium’s CEO confirmed that the industry is moving forward with implementing this technology in consumer devices. Other companies, including SpaceX, AT&T, and T-Mobile, have already begun working on similar projects. For example, T-Mobile users can already send messages from previously unreachable locations using SpaceX’s Starlink satellites.
Qualcomm issued a statement revealing that smartphone companies will continue to utilize standard-based solutions. This means that the phones will continue to connect to cell phone towers, which are then linked to base stations that receive signals from high-orbit satellites.
Qualcomm previously launched the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which had the ability to connect to satellites if smartphone manufacturers added the necessary antenna hardware. However, with the discontinuation of the Qualcomm and Iridium deal, the launch of Snapdragon Satellite has been cancelled.
While Qualcomm and Iridium will continue their collaboration on developing current solutions, the termination of the agreement also paves the way for Iridium to work directly with device manufacturers.