Apple starts a fight with Starlink for satellite communications for iPhone

At Apple’s presentation this week, the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro were presented under the thematic name Far Out. The head of the company Tim Cook showed an important update of smartphones: new products are now able to send messages via satellite in emergency situations. The company introduced a new feature for a reason. The ability to make emergency calls via satellite has actually made the American technology giant a key player in the space industry.

50 billion by 2026

To implement its project, Apple is working closely with Globalstar. The company’s “Space Fleet” plans to deploy 24 satellites with the possibility of further implementation of Band 53/n53 satellite communications. This will allow Apple smartphones to be connected in any exact globe without “dead zones”. But for now, the Apple Emergency SOS service will be available only in the USA and Canada. Apple announced that the service will be free for users in the first two years, but did not provide details of how much it will cost after the free period expires.

Apple Emergency SOS Service

According to a Reuters report, Apple is investing USD 450 million in satellite infrastructure, with most of that investment going to Globalstar. Apple has also agreed to pay 95% of the cost of new satellites associated with this feature. Tim Farrar, an analyst at Telecom Media and Finance Associates, a consulting and research firm, estimates that deploying Globalstar satellites in orbit will cost Apple USD 50 million by 2026. 

Apple Emergency SOS Service

Starlink and 4G/LTE

Currently, Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite network is already distributing the Internet around the world. Satellite communication technology has greatly helped Ukraine for civilian needs after the beginning of Russia’s aggression – Starlink terminals in the affected regions allowed local authorities, the military and the defense Ministry to stay online. 

Elon Musk plans to use Starlink to connect with Tesla electric vehicles after the deployment of 4G/LTE communications via satellites, testing of which will begin in 2023.

Apple is not the only one

But Apple is not the only one planning to compete with Starlink. Lynk Global is also trying to build a worldwide emergency communications network that will work with unmodified phones. The company claims to have already become the first to send a text message from space during the test of its satellite in 2020. Meanwhile, a company called AST SpaceMobile hopes to use satellite communications for 4G and even 5G Internet, and plans to deploy a test satellite in mid-September 2022. Even Amazon is participating in its Kuiper project, but so far for the distribution of satellite Internet.

The introduction of Apple innovations has always had a great impact on the market as a whole. We have seen the successful implementation of the company’s ideas in entertainment, fitness, fashion and other areas that have completely changed our attitude to them and made them easy to use. Now space joins this list. It is expected that well-known companies such as Samsung and Huawei will also gradually join the “fight for space”.

Earlier, we reported how Starlink was denied subsidies of USD 885 million.

According to The Verge

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