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Garmin to expand satellite SOS business?

August 30, 2023

By Chris Forrester

Traffic and destination mapping business Garmin is rumoured to be planning to work with Google to expand its satellite-based SOS telephony market.

One report says that Garmin and Google are talking about using Google Messages and its text option on Garmin’s Response services for satellite-based emergency SOS connections. Garmin’s existing emergency service taps into Iridium’s satellites which themselves cover the whole of the planet. Garmin charges around $15 per month (or a local equivalent) to use the satellite services.

Google’s Android phones, it is suggested, could be activated on Garmin’s systems and expanded to help stranded or emergency/SOS needs for users in more than 150 countries. The existing service from Apple on its recent iPhone 14 models is currently limited to 15 countries. A new Google Android phone (Android 14) is expected to be released to the market shortly and some observers suggest the new phone could include the SOS technology. Meanwhile, chipset manufacturer Qualcomm is also working on adding support for SOS messaging via Iridium with a service it’s calling Snapdragon Satellite.

Qualcomm’s service is also available on the Garmin Response system. Qualcomm stated in February that Honor, Motorola, Nothing, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi are all currently working on phones with hardware that supports the satellite feature.

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