Iridium and Qualcomm Partner for Satellite Messaging for Smartphones

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor  |  January 10, 2023

While those of us who live in urban or suburban areas often take our mobile connectivity for granted, it’s important to remember that 85 percent of the world’s surface has no cellular coverage. To assist with better connectivity in remote areas, some companies are introducing satellite messaging capabilities to their smartphone platforms to close the gap.  

Iridium Communications entered into an agreement with Qualcomm (News - Alert) to enable satellite messaging and emergency services in smartphones powered by Snapdragon Mobile Platforms. Iridium operates the Iridium satellite constellation, a system of 66 active satellites and 9 in-orbit spares used for worldwide voice and data communication from hand-held satellite phones and other transceiver units. Snapdragon Satellite-equipped smartphones will be capable of accessing global coverage, sending emergency messages and texting with friends and family from anywhere on the planet with a view of open sky.

Qualcomm's  new Snapdragon Satellite solution is supported by the Iridium (News - Alert) satellite constellation. Emergency messaging using Snapdragon Satellite is expected to debut starting in the second half of 2023 in premium Android smartphones launched in select regions. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon systems on chips (SoC) is used in smartphones, tablets, laptops, 2-in-1 PCs, smartwatches, and smartbook devices.

"While some have been expecting we would be integrating our system into a specific smartphone, what we've done is so much bigger," said Matt Desch (News - Alert), CEO of Iridium. "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. This supports our larger vision of connecting people and things on the move, anywhere!"

In the announcement, Qualcomm noted that Snapdragon Satellite is another step in achieving the company’s vision, enabling OEMs and other service providers with global coverage and satellite messaging capabilities.

"Qualcomm Technologies is rooted in a vision for engineering human progress and pushing the boundaries of what is possible with premium smartphones and the next generation of connected smart devices across industries," said Durga Malladi, senior vice president and general manager, cellular modems and infrastructure for Qualcomm.

Edited by Greg Tavarez