Qualcomm cuts satellite-to-phone partnership with Iridium

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Qualcomm has cut its partnership with satellite communications firm Iridium to provide satellite-to-phone services.

The partnership was initially announced in January 2023 and was broadly seen to be Android’s alternative to Apple’s partnership with Globalstar last year to launch its own satellite-powered emergency SOS feature for iPhone and Apple Watch.

Despite the successful development and demonstration of the technology by both companies, the primary reason cited for the dissolution of the partnership is the lack of adoption of the technology by smartphone manufacturers.

Qualcomm, for its part, asserted that smartphone makers have not incorporated the technology into their devices. The company highlighted that manufacturers have expressed a preference for standards-based solutions for satellite-to-phone connectivity.

With that in mind, Qualcomm says it plans to continue collaborating with Iridium on standards-based solutions while discontinuing efforts on the proprietary solution introduced earlier this year.

Iridium, acknowledging the end of the agreement with Qualcomm, sees this as an opportunity to re-engage with other entities actively involved in satellite-to-cell projects. Despite the setback, Iridium reassured investors that the termination of the agreement would not impact its full-year 2023 financial guidance.

Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium, expressed disappointment about the partnership not yielding immediate results but remains optimistic about the industry’s direction towards increased satellite connectivity in consumer devices.

(Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash)

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