Qualcomm and Iridium bring satellite-to-cellular services to Android

Qualcomm and Iridium bring satellite-to-cellular services to Android
Ryan is a senior editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience covering the latest technology and interviewing leading industry figures. He can often be sighted at tech conferences with a strong coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. If it's geeky, he’s probably into it. Find him on Twitter (@Gadget_Ry) or Mastodon (@gadgetry@techhub.social)

Qualcomm and Iridium have unveiled Snapdragon Satellite, a solution that brings satellite-to-cellular services to next-generation Android smartphones.

Snapdragon Satellite will support two-way messaging from pole to pole in remote, rural, and offshore locations.

“Robust and reliable connectivity is at the heart of premium experiences. Snapdragon Satellite showcases our history of leadership in enabling global satellite communications and our ability to bring superior innovations to mobile devices at scale,” said Durga Malladi, SVP and GM of Cellular Modems and Infrastructure at Qualcomm.

While the partners say the service can be used for recreational purposes, satellite connectivity is most beneficial for emergencies.

Apple partnered with Globalstar last year to launch its own satellite-powered emergency SOS feature. Numerous people reported that the feature saved their lives just weeks after launch.

In one case, after a car plunged off a mountain cliff, a passenger’s iPhone automatically detected the crash and made a satellite SOS call to alert emergency services of the accident and its location. Within 30 minutes, the occupants were rescued by helicopter.

“If they hadn’t been able to get out the SOS, they could have spent overnight there, gotten wet, developed hypothermia,” Sergeant John Gilbert, a deputy for the local sheriff’s department, told PEOPLE.

“To walk out and get help, in a remote area with no cell reception, they were lucky.”

Snapdragon Satellite will provide similar benefits for Android users, starting with devices based on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform.

“Our network is tailored for this service – our advanced, LEO satellites cover every part of the globe and support the lower-power, low-latency connections ideal for the satellite-powered services enabled by the industry-leading Snapdragon Satellite,” explained Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium.

“Millions depend on our connections every day, and we look forward to the many millions more connecting through smartphones powered by Snapdragon Satellite.”

Snapdragon Satellite will use Garmin’s satellite emergency response services.

“Garmin welcomes the opportunity to expand our proven satellite emergency response services to millions of new smartphone users globally,” said Brad Trenkle, VP of Garmin’s outdoor segment.

“Garmin Response supports thousands of SOS incidents each year and has likely saved many lives in the process, and we are looking forward to collaborating with Qualcomm Technologies and Iridium to help people connect to emergency services no matter where life takes them.”

Further down the line, Qualcomm and Iridium say that Snapdragon Satellite will expand to other devices including laptops, tablets, vehicles, and IoT devices.

“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,” concludes Desch.

Related: SpaceX and T-Mobile partner on “satellite-to-cellular” service

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