Qualcomm today introduced Snapdragon Satellite, the world’s first satellite-based solution capable of supporting two-way messaging for premium smartphones and beyond. The joint venture between Qualcomm and Iridium will bring satellite-based connectivity to next-generation premium Android smartphones, with Garmin eventually adding support for emergency messaging.
Qualcomm Technologies Inc. announced a number of Snapdragon solutions at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and Satellite will provide global connectivity for mobile messaging services around the world, beginning with devices based on the company’s flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform. It will support two-way messaging for emergency use, SMS texting, and other messaging applications for a variety of purposes such as emergencies or recreation in remote, rural and offshore locations.
Snapdragon Satellite will be powered by Snapdragon 5G Modem-RF Systems and supported by the fully operational Iridium satellite constellation. The solution for smartphones uses Iridium’s weather-resilient L-band spectrum for uplink and downlink, according to the company’s press release.
“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,” remarked Durga Malladi, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Cellular Modems and Infrastructure, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “Kicking off in premium smartphones later this year, this new addition to our Snapdragon platform strongly positions us to enable satellite communication capabilities and service offerings across multiple device categories.”
The satellite service can go beyond just smartphones, including laptops, tablets, vehicles, and the IoT. As the ecosystem grows, OEMs and app developers can offer unique branded services that take full advantage of satellite connectivity. Snapdragon Satellite is also planned to support 5G Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN), as NTN satellite infrastructure and constellations become available.
Iridium’s satellites currently blanket the entire Earth. The first Iridium satellite was deployed in 1997 and the network was fully operational in 1998. Iridium completed an upgrade to the Iridium constellation, replacing all its satellites without ever disrupting the service in 2019.
Mark Desch, CEO, Iridium, stated, “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 idea for the satellite-powered services enabled by the industry-leading Snapdragon Satellite. Millions depend on our connections every day, and we look forward to the many millions more connecting through smartphones powered by Snapdragon Satellite.”
“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,” noted Brad Trenkle, Vice President of Garmin Outdoor.
Emergency messaging on Snapdragon Satellite is planned to be available on next-generation smartphones in the second half of 2023.