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Qualcomm Unveils Snapdragon Satellite

TECH: Iridium Partnership Announced

After diversifying its multinational business interests into automotive, Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud-computing, San Diego-based Qualcomm Technologies is now reaching for the stars – literally.

Matt Desch
CEO
Iridium

Kicking off the new year with big news at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Qualcomm and Iridium Communications announced that the two companies have entered into an agreement to bring satellite-based connectivity to next-generation premium Android smartphones.

Snapdragon Satellite will offer truly global coverage from pole to pole – and also can 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.

Company officials said the new partnership is also expected to provide the opportunity to expand emergency and two-way satellite messaging beyond smartphones to other devices needing global messaging capabilities.

At CES 2023, Qualcomm unveiled Snapdragon Satellite — the world’s first satellite-based two-way capable messaging system for premium smartphones. Qualcomm said Snapdragon Satellite will provide global connectivity using mobile messaging from around the world, starting with devices based on the flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform.

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Powered by Snapdragon 5G Modem-RF Systems and supported by the fully operational Iridium satellite constellation, Snapdragon Satellite will enable OEMs and other service providers to offer truly global coverage, enabling Android phones to text anyone beyond a cellular network, a powerful new feature similar to Apple’s Emergency SOS for the iPhone 14.

Qualcomm’s solution for smartphones utilizes Iridium’s weather-resilient L-band spectrum for uplink and downlink. Iridium, which is based in McLean, Virginia, and was formerly known as Iridium Satellite, designs and makes a number of communication-related products including satellite phones, IoT terminals and mobile connectivity solutions.

Iridium also makes its core technologies available to its partners like Qualcomm who develop Iridium Connected solutions for businesses, governments and individuals worldwide.

Emergency Messaging Coming in 2023

Qualcomm said that emergency messaging on Snapdragon Satellite is planned to be available on next-generation smartphones, launched in select regions starting in the second half of 2023.

Durga Malladi
Senior VP and General Manager, Cellular Modems and Infrastructure
Qualcomm Technologies

“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,” said 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,” Malladi added.

Beyond smartphones, Snapdragon Satellite can expand to other devices, including laptops, tablets, vehicles and IoT.

Qualcomm officials said that as the Snapdragon Satellite ecosystem grows, OEMs and app developers can differentiate and offer unique branded services taking advantage of satellite connectivity.

Snapdragon Satellite is planned to support 5G Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN), as NTN satellite infrastructure and constellations become available.

“Iridium is proud to be the satellite network that supports Snapdragon Satellite for premium smartphones,” said Matt Desch, CEO at Iridium since 2009.

“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 ideal for the satellite-powered services enabled by the industry-leading Snapdragon Satellite,” Desch added. “Millions depend on our connections every day, and we look forward to the many millions more connecting through smartphones powered by Snapdragon Satellite.”

As part of the new Qualcomm-Iridium partnership, Garmin, which makes GPS-enabled technology for a diverse range of markets, said its looking forward to collaborating with the two companies to support emergency messaging.

Brad Trenkle
VP Outdoor Segment
Garmin

“Garmin welcomes the opportunity to expand our proven satellite emergency response services to millions of new smartphone users globally,” said Brad Trenkle, vice president of Garmin’s outdoor segment.

“Garmin Response supports thousands of SOS incidents each year and has likely saved many lives in the process,” Trenkle added. “We are looking forward to collaborating with Qualcomm Technologies and Iridium to help people connect to emergency services no matter where life takes them.”

At CES 2023, Qualcomm said it is “enabling a world where everyone and everything can be intelligently connected.”

“Our one technology roadmap allows us to efficiently scale the technologies that launched the mobile revolution – including advanced connectivity, high-performance, low-power compute, on-device intelligence and more – to the next generation of connected smart devices across industries,” the company said in a statement announcing the partnership with Iridium. “Innovations from Qualcomm and our family of Snapdragon platforms will help enable cloud-edge convergence, transform industries, accelerate the digital economy, and revolutionize how we experience the world, for the greater good.”

Qualcomm Technologies

FOUNDED: 1985
CEO: Cristiano Amon
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego
EMPLOYEES: 41,000
REVENUE: $44.2 billion (2022)
STOCK: QCOM (NASDAQ)
WEBSITE: qualcomm.com
NOTABLE: Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. operates, along with its subsidiaries, substantially all of the company’s engineering, research and development functions, and substantially all of its products and services businesses, including its QCT semiconductor business.

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