Niche for Now, Satellite Smartphones Could Answer the Call for Rural Connectivity

By Jeff Johnston

October 27, 2022

Key Points

  • Advancements in battery density, chipset processing power, and antenna technology have now made it possible for smartphones to connect with satellites for some basic services. This means the latest smartphones outfitted with this tech will soon work anywhere in the U.S., regardless of cellular coverage.
  • In conjunction with Globalstar, Apple recently announced satellite service with its iPhone 14, giving them a two-year lead in the market.
  • T-Mobile and SpaceX also announced plans to offer smartphone satellite connectivity, but will begin beta trials towards the end of 2023.
  • Initially, Apple’s service will be limited to some basic text messaging and an SOS feature that sends a user’s latitude and longitude to first responders in emergency situations.
  • However, voice calling and more advanced data services should be available as new satellites launch and the service evolves. This could have a profound impact on communication options for unserved rural Americans.

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