New iPhone May Get Satellite Signal

John Lister's picture

The next iPhone model looks likely to have a free satellite connection that works virtually anywhere. Initially at least it will likely only work for text messages.

The idea has reportedly been in the works for iPhones for some time but now looks likely to be announced in September and cover the forthcoming iPhone 14. Apple is holding a launch event titled "Far Out" and artwork showing space.

Meanwhile a company called Globalstar announced earlier this year that it bought 17 new satellites to serve a new, unnamed customer. That's looking increasingly likely to be Apple.

No Signal Needed

Tim Farrar, a satellite communications consultant, has shared details of what he expects from Apple and the effect that's having on rival companies. (Source: digitalcameraworld.com)

The benefits of using satellites rather than relying solely on cellphone towers are simple: with enough satellites in play, users should be able to get a connection from virtually anywhere with a line of sight to the sky.

Within the US, satellite connectivity is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Farrar says Apple's plans are relatively modest and will only use "existing satellite spectrum." That means they won't require the FCC to change its rules, something that's holding up would-be satellite communications providers with more ambitious ideas.

Emergency Contact Tool

The downside is that as things stand, Apple would only be able to let users send and receive text messages. It wouldn't be possible to make voice calls or send images.

That means Apple will most likely market the free service as an emergency feature, with the option to include precise location in any messages. That could make it a useful alternative for outdoor explorers and athletes who currently need a bulky satellite phone or navigation device to be certain of being able to get in touch with emergency contacts when in remote areas.

That's also led to speculation that the satellite technology could be built into future versions of the Apple watch. That could mean users were able to share their location in an emergency even without their phone. (Source: theverge.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Is this a useful feature? What do you think Apple's long-term plan is with satellite technology? Would you pay extra if you could make voice calls or use the Internet even in places without a cellphone signal?

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Comments

matt_2058's picture

Finally! A solution for dead or rural areas. My father lives in a rural area and the only carrier that gets a connection is the local one owned by the local phone company. Being able to at least text by walking outside would change everything while visiting.