Advanced Television

Iridium to enable smartphone connectivity

October 24, 2022

By Chris Forrester

Apple’s iPhone 14 has already promised ‘emergency’ S.O.S. connectivity in remote areas in the US or Canada by using Globalstar direct-to-smartphone satellites. Now Iridium, already extremely active in supplying satellite-phone connections, says it will bring in “basic” S.O.S. for emergencies and casual use.

Apple’s service will provide iPhone 14 users outside of a normal cellular network the ability to send short text messages. The service is initially only for the US and Canada.

Iridium’s CEO Matt Desch, speaking at his company’s results announcement on Octpber 20th, said “Obviously, if you make a connection to a smartphone, you can do a lot more than just push an emergency button. I won’t go into exactly how and what more you can do, but our network is very efficient at sending information back and forth. So lots could be done.”

The major benefit for Iridium is that its constellation is already in space, and he added that Iridium had plenty of capacity to support these new services. Moreover, Iridium was already licensed to connect his satellites to ground-based services and connections.

SpaceX has also talked of entering the smartphone connections market using its Starlink satellites and in partnership with T-Mobile.

However, Desch has doubts whether the ‘smartphone-by-satellite’ market will grow to be a market worth billions. He said that those prospects were many years away “if ever” because of the investment required.

As to Iridium’s quarterly numbers (to the end of September) Desch reported an EBITDA revenue rise of 8 per cent to almost $108 million, and upwardly revised EBITDA guidance for the full year of some $420 million, an 8-9 per cent increase in revenues.

Categories: Articles, MNO, Mobile, Satellite

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