September 6, 2021

2021 – The Year Your iPhone Calls go Extra-terrestrial?

iphone-satellite-calls

In a recent address to investors, TFI International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that the next iPhone will utilize satellite communication, enabling calls and messages when users are out of 4G/5G coverage. This promptly resulted in shares in Globalstar (Kuo’s named satellite services provider) closing up at 64% at the end of August (CNBC).

It’s quite extraordinary when you think about it; at Ground Control, we pride ourselves on our ability to retrieve data from anywhere on Earth, no matter how remote, but enabling all iPhone users with the ability to use extra-terrestrial networks to phone home is a dramatic step forwards in the ubiquity of satellite connectivity.

So, are we mere mortals really going to be able to make calls and send messages from literally anywhere on Earth? Devices like the RockSTAR have made this possible for adventurers and explorers, as well as remote field workers, for many years, and their robust battery life will continue to lend themselves to many applications. But for the average person, will anything truly remote exist?

People who romanticize about being ‘off grid’ won’t be; there’ll be no excuse not to keep your family, co-workers and friends regularly informed about your location and wellbeing, and for some people, that’s not as appealing as it might be!

Where does this development lead?

With the speculation that Apple’s latest iPhone model will have satcom connectivity “as standard”, could there be a space race of a new era? Musk’s satellites, Iridium’s low earth orbit satellites and Inmarsat’s geo-stationary network could be utilized in a way previously reserved for the securest and most confidential business, government and military comms.

The GSMA real-time intelligence data estimates there are 5.28 billion people in the world that have a mobile device. For context, this means that 66.92% of the world’s population has a mobile device. That’s a lot. And a large incentive for Android to follow suit.

Currently billed as being available only for emergency comms where 4G/5G coverage can’t quite reach, it’s potentially only a matter of time before we’re all casually phoning home from space.



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