Smartphones could soon become satellite phones as Apple and other companies work to connect them to existing links in space.
- Apple and telecommunication hardware company Huawei have released phones capable of connecting to current satellites.
- Satellite startups AST SpaceMobile and Lynk Global are working to make low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites that regular 5G smartphones can connect to when not in range of typical phone networks.
- The new advancements could allow billions of smartphones to connect to satellites and send messages and phone calls through space without any additional equipment.
Why it’s important
This news might sound like just another way to send techs via smartphones, but it is much more than that.
If these new advancements work out the way the companies are hoping, smartphone users will be capable of sending a message anywhere, anytime, as long as they have a clear view of the sky.
If someone is in trouble and needs help but does not have any cellular service to be able to call or message someone with these new advancements, they will be able to send the message via satellite using just their regular cellphone.
“Offering direct satellite access to smartphones without modifications would allow access to billions of devices worldwide,” says the head of the University of Luxembourg’s SigCom research group Symeon Chatzinotas.
Satellite phones have been available since the 1990s but are a large, bulky phone that is typically costly. Now any smartphone can be a satellite phone.
Huawei has not given a date for when the devices will be in use, while Apple has already started putting some devices on the market.
Lynk Global has agreements with 23 telecom providers to begin commercial operations in 2023, and AST SpaceMobile says it plans to launch its first five commercial satellites late next year.