By Wallace Witkowski
The Snapdragon Satellite service connects Android smartphones to satellites without the need for a ground gateway
Qualcomm Inc. wants Apple Inc. by offering emergency satellite phone services using Android smartphones, with specific product announcements expected by the middle of the year.
At the CES tech event in Las Vegas, Qualcomm (QCOM) announced it has partnered with satellite network Iridium Communications Inc. (IRDM) to Snapdragon Satellite, a service where next-generation smartphones from Alphabet Inc. ) Android operating system.
By using a suitable Android smartphone with a clear view of the sky, users outside the range of cellular service can send emergency text messages over a network of 66 satellites, Qualcomm said.
Speaking to the media, Francesco Grilli, Qualcomm’s head of product management, said the service has a faster turnaround time for text messages, sometimes as long as 10 seconds, compared to a minute or more for other services in areas without cellular service. To use the service, Android users point their phones at the sky to connect to an Iridium satellite.
For now, the service is for messaging only, which uses less bandwidth than voice services that require a constant connection.
In September, shares of Globalstar Inc. (GSAT) volatile after Apple Inc. (AAPL) announced a partnership with the satellite company to provide emergency services.
However, unlike Globalstar, Snapdragon Satellite does not require a satellite gateway on the ground, meaning the device communicates directly with a satellite rather than routing messages through infrastructure on Earth.
“If there’s no gateway in the area you’re in, you’re out of luck,” Grilli said of Globalstar. “So if you’re in the middle of the ocean, there’s no Globalstar gateway there, so you don’t have coverage. If you’re in Antarctica, there’s no gateway there, you don’t have coverage.”
Qualcomm was unable to comment on specific original equipment manufacturers at this time. The consumer-facing service is likely to launch in Western Europe and North America at a cost to be determined.
Qualcomm shares fell 1.4% in recent activity, compared to a 0.9% drop on the S&P 500 and a 1.1% drop on the tech-heavy Nasdaq.
– Wallace Witkowski
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
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