None of the Snapdragon Satellite service, Qualcomm and Iridium end partnership
November 11, 2023

None of the Snapdragon Satellite service, Qualcomm and Iridium end partnership

Satellite communication and connectivity, which was supposed to arrive on Android devices with the introduction of the announced Snapdragon Satellite service, will not be realized. The two companies that worked on this project, Qualcomm and Iridium, announced that they were terminating the contract that was supposed to ensure the connection of the phone to the satellite in order to send messages, and not only those in emergency cases.

The reason for the break in cooperation, however, is not in the technology itself. It was successfully developed and tested by Iridium, but smartphone manufacturers decided not to include it in their devices, which led Qualcomm to terminate the contract.

The aforementioned Snapdragon Satellite service for the next generation of premium Android devices was announced by Qualcomm at this year's CES. Then, as one of the main features of the technology in relation to the Apple SOS satellite system, the company pointed out that it will enable the exchange of messages with other people, the use of other applications for communication as well as for recreation in rural and remote areas.

However, as we wrote earlier, since the CES announcement, Qualcomm has not announced any additional updates in this regard, despite the fact that it was announced even for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. It is now official that the plan by which the Snapdragon Satellite was supposed to work over 66 satellites of the Iridium company fell through.

However, Qualcomm's separation from Iridium, otherwise Apple's biggest competitor in the satellite communication system, does not necessarily mean that satellite connectivity will completely disappear from the story.

Iridium's CEO says the industry is moving forward with implementing the technology in consumer devices, although the statement literally says that Snapdragon Satellite smartphone makers have not wanted to add to their devices.

Of course, the mentioned company is not the only one that deals with satellite connection, and there are also companies on the market such as billionaire Ilon Musk's SpaceX, AT&T and T-Mobile that work on similar projects. For example, T-Mobile customers can send messages from very distant places via SpaceX's Starlink satellite.

Although the Snapdragon Satellite project is failing, there is room for new ones

Qualcomm, on the other hand, told CNBC that smartphone companies will continue to use standard solutions. This means that the phones will continue to connect to the tower that is connected to the base station, which then receives the signal from a satellite located far away in orbit.

Last year's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset launched with the ability to connect to satellites, provided phone makers added the necessary antenna hardware. The Snapdragon Satellite technology was then supposed to come out in the middle of this year, but due to the break in cooperation, that obviously won't happen.

Nevertheless, the American company from San Diego says that it expects to continue certain cooperation with the Iridium company in connection with current solutions, and that this in fact opens a new possibility for the satellite company to work directly with phone manufacturers.