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Iridium and Qualcomm partner on satellite messaging

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Iridium Communications has entered into an agreement with Qualcomm Technologies to develop satellite messaging and emergency services in smartphones.

Powered by the Snapdragon Mobile Platforms, Qualcomm Technologies' new Snapdragon Satellite solution is supported by Iridium's satellite constellation. At the same time, emergency messaging using Snapdragon Satellite is due to become operational in the first half of 2023 available on premium Android smartphones in select regions.

"While some have been expecting we would be integrating our system into a specific smartphone, what we've done is so much bigger," said Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium.

"Working with a mobile technology leader such as Qualcomm Technologies and their powerful Snapdragon platforms allows Iridium to serve the smartphone industry horizontally – and offers us an opportunity to enable other consumer and vehicular applications in the future. This supports our larger vision of connecting people and things on the move, anywhere!"

Iridium's collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies supports satellite services into a variety of smartphone brands and has the potential to expand to other consumer devices in the future.

In addition, Iridium satellite connections can enable similar applications for vehicles, and other personal consumer and IoT devices.

Snapdragon Satellite-equipped smartphones will be capable of accessing global coverage, sending emergency messages and texting with friends and family from anywhere globally.

"Qualcomm Technologies is rooted in a vision for engineering human progress and pushing the boundaries of what is possible with premium smartphones and the next generation of connected smart devices across industries." said Durga Malladi, senior vice president and general manager, cellular modems and infrastructure, Qualcomm Technologies.

"Snapdragon Satellite is another step in achieving our vision, enabling OEMs and other service providers with global coverage and satellite messaging capabilities."

Peter Kibutu, Advanced Technology Lead – NTNs at TTP, a 5G satellite consultancy, shared his insights into what the announcement means for the future of NTN connectivity and its eventual standardisation.

“The announcement of Snapdragon Satellite by Qualcomm and Iridium at CES is the latest in a recent flurry of announcements around non-terrestrial networks (NTNs) satellite communications support in handsets. However, these announcements are just a stepping stone to greater availability and functionality as handsets and satellite companies look to standardise NTN connectivity," he said.  

“Ultimately, this move by Qualcomm is a great short-term solution for the need for satellite communications to plug connectivity blackspots. However, it is the longer-term industry standardisation and convergence, which we will see later this year, that will open up this capability to more devices and drive true mass-market 5G NTNs.”