The next time you find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere and need to send a text message, no matter what device you’re using, Low Earth Satellites will help you send an SOS in the sky. you may be able to turn your attention.
Last year, Apple became the first technology company to bring new satellite texting capabilities to its devices, introducing the iPhone 14 as a system for calling for help in an emergency. The idea is very simple. Point your phone at the sky, tune in to the satellites passing overhead, and text the authorities. You can also send GPS data.
Other companies are poised to step in now, making satellite text messaging the new frontier in the world of telephony.
Avi Greengart, an analyst at research firm Techsponential, said: “Everyone does it. Everyone does it differently.”
Sadly, it’s not as simple as adding a satellite texting app and additional satellite radio to your phone. Low earth orbit satellite systems are expensive to operate and maintain, similar to cell phone internet and phone systems. Apple says it will give iPhone owners free access to emergency services for two years after they purchase the device, but didn’t specify after that. Other satellite text messaging systems have yet to launch and seem likely to charge users for privileges.
There is no debate as to whether this technology is useful. I’ve already heard that it saved his life. The question is whether people are willing to pay. If not, will satellite email become just another fad like 3D TV?
Cellular satellite technology is currently only used in emergencies and is only found in expensive smartphones like Apple’s iPhone 14, which starts at $799. This makes the technology a useful feature that more phone owners won’t have access to for some time. maybe not. Nabila Popal, her director of research at IDC, counts herself in this group. “I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have cell phone service,” Popal said.
Given the niche use of satellite texting, Popal doesn’t think it will sway consumers into buying another phone. For backcountry hikers, desert drag he racers, and remote truckers planning to travel beyond cell phone networks, this certainly has an appeal. But for everyone else, it’s not a feature so important as a rush purchase.
Instead, it’s like an extra wing on the cap of the latest smartphone, which already bundles many other technologies that previously had to be carried separately in a bag, such as cameras and handheld video games.
Current state of satellite email
Satellite phones have been around for decades, dating back to Steven Seagal’s classic 1992 military thriller “Under Siege,” and they’re used in movies whenever someone needs to call from the middle of the ocean. will appear. Satellite phones also played a key role in keeping people away from the dinosaur-infested island in 2001’s Jurassic Park III.
“Where’s the phone? Bring me the phone!” yells at veteran dinosaur survivor Alan Grant, who nearly slipped off his boat into the river during a Spinosaurus attack. (Spoiler, he can grab it at the last minute and signal for help.)
The actual version is less exciting, but just as useful. They relay telephone signals to the ground using a network of dozens of satellites that orbit the earth about every 90 minutes.which entered service in 1998 and has survived by dozens of other satellite networks providing connectivity to frequent travelers, while Elon Musk’s rocket startup, SpaceX, gained internet coverage through its Starlink program. This prospect gained popularity recently after borrowing the idea of surrounding the globe.
Get satellite phone coverage by buying a bulky nearly $900 feature phone and paying a premium of at least $50 for 5 minutes of talk time for service from a company that owns a private network of satellites can do. But phone makers are building the ability to send emergency texts using these orbital networks. This is because smartphone radios can now communicate directly with satellites. No need to rely on a separate (often larger) antenna.
Anshel Sag, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said that phone radios “have allowed satellite connectivity to be built into the phone without the need for an external antenna.”
Among the mainstream smartphone makers, Apple was the first to announce the iPhone 14 line. The company has partnered with GlobalStar for limited coverage in the US, Europe, Australia and parts of South America. Apple has enabled this feature only in a few countries on these continents, and it only works for emergency text messages made outdoors (it doesn’t reach deep inside buildings). when they buy a phone.
Earlier this month, Qualcomm revealed a new feature coming to Android phones that will allow users to send and receive text messages via satellite. It uses the Iridium network, and Qualcomm says it offers more global coverage than Apple’s service claims.
Called Snapdragon Satellite, the service will only start in emergencies, but will eventually be able to exchange social messages and possibly use the data as part of a premium service. It’s not yet available and will be in phones launching in the second half of 2023 that use Qualcomm’s latest premium chips, but the company won’t decide whether or not to include the service in its phones, or for the privilege. It’s up to the mobile phone manufacturer to decide whether or not they need to charge. It leaves many unknowns.
There are also smaller players with their own niche devices, like Bullitt, which unveiled a Motorola-branded rugged phone powered by a MediaTek chipset at CES 2023, with an undisclosed price for the first in 2023. It will be released quarterly. Bullitt promises two-way satellite text his messages through connectivity partner Skylo, which leases time on existing satellite constellations. Huawei actually launched its Mate 50 series of phones with satellite texting capabilities via its BeiDou satellite network in China one day before Apple’s iPhone 14 debuted, but Huawei’s reach is decreasing year by year.
Individual phones with unique ideas for satellite texting are likely to follow one after the other, and all major US carriers will eventually develop their own mobile services to deliver mobile services across network boundaries. satellite partners, but none have yet indicated an official launch date.
Analysts say everyone is in the race because they understand the potential value of offering a satellite safety net as a service. Apple is easy to add along with subscription services like Apple TV Plus for $7 a month, Apple Music Plus for $10 a month, or the Apple One bundle for $17. Carriers can take advantage of this to sweeten deals on the most expensive subscription plans. “I can’t stress enough how important it is to tell someone you’re out of gas in the middle of the Gobi Desert, Death Valley or the Adirondacks,” said Greengart of Techsponential. .
Is it a bad thing to be trending for new phones?
Of course, the phone industry doesn’t have the best track record with new technology. Analysts widely believe his move to 5G wireless in recent years has been a disappointment. This is especially true as coverage can be spotty and speeds can be as slow as his 4G LTE service for years.
Satellite texting can be even more cumbersome than 5G. This is especially because it depends on the availability of satellites and the untested burden of many people relaying help requests through satellites.
Still, early signs look promising. At CES 2023, Qualcomm took a journalist outside of Las Vegas to test Snapdragon’s satellite feature. CNET phone editor Patrick Holland himself tested Apple’s Emergency SOS feature on his iPhone 14 and found it works.
This seems like the next frontier. It is using satellites to strengthen her mobile network and keep people in touch. Even if most people don’t have the misfortune to need it, this feature still serves as a safety net, helping people beyond cell towers and disaster survivors after a mobile network failure. It helps more adventurous phone users who are wandering around.
Some iPhone 14 owners have already reportedly been saved thanks to this feature, including one man who got stranded while traveling with a snowplow in Alaska above the Arctic Circle. It contains. In another case, a couple fell into a deep forest canyon in Los Angeles and used their iPhones to call for help. In less than 30 minutes they were rescued. Without the iPhone’s satellite text messaging capabilities, I wouldn’t have been able to contact emergency services. John Gilbert told the Los Angeles Times.
If you want to safely venture beyond cellular network range, you don’t need to buy a big, clunky satellite phone. Many smartphones will soon be able to call for help if they make a mistake in the wilderness or are attacked by dinosaurs on a remote island.