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Iridium and Qualcomm abandon satellite emergency messaging partnership

Staff Reporter
November 11, 2023

Iridium and Qualcomm’s dream of covering the world’s surface with an emergency texting service accessible through Snapdragon satellite-chip Android smartphones is over.

Iridium blamed smartphone makers for not including the technology in their devices, leading Qualcomm to end the agreement.

This week the two companies called off the partnership they announced in January to enable satellite messaging and emergency services in smartphones to be powered by Snapdragon Mobile Platforms. The goal was that a new generation of smartphones would be able to send emergency messages from anywhere on the planet with a view of the open sky.

The collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies was to support satellite services into a variety of smartphone brands and expand to other consumer devices.

But the deal had “collapsed under its own weight” according to Charles Miller, head of sat2phone telecoms provider Lynk Global.

The economics of so many players makes no sense for the sat2phone business. With so many players taking a cut the solution was too costly Qualcomm insisted on a share for its role in the Iridium partnership and spent the last 10 months talking to handset manufacturers. Samsung was key Meanwhile, network operators were asking what do they get. Neither Samsung nor the MNOs were going to get involved without a significant share of revenue. They could not get to an answer that made sense”.

There were too many cooks in the kitchen. Their solution was too costly for a marginal emergency texting service. Iridium can’t even support regular SMS texting for the billions of customers who want this service. It is an extremely limited service. Regular SMS texting is orders of magnitude larger than emergency texting”, sad Miller

I believe Samsung did not want to pay the extra cost of giving Qualcomm a big piece of the action If you are Samsung, you don’t need Qualcomm. Samsung is following the Apple path, and increasingly bringing the radio chips in-house. Samsung can build its radio chips and can get rid of the Qualcomm tax.”


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