Tim Farrar, a satellite communications consultant at the California-based market research company Telecom, Media and Finance Associates, predicts that Apple may unveil its long-rumored satellite connectivity feature for the iPhone 14 next month.
Farrar said in a series of tweets that Apple’s release of its own satellite connectivity capability for the iPhone in collaboration with Globalstar was likely meant to preempt T-Mobile and SpaceX’s announcement of satellite connectivity yesterday. On September 7, Apple will host a media event at the Steve Jobs Theater. The event’s “Far Out” theme and starry sky artwork have stoked rumors that Apple may reveal satellite connectivity.
Globalstar declared in February that it had purchased 17 new satellites in order to offer “continuous satellite services” to a “possible customer,” who might be Apple.
According to Farrar, Apple’s service would begin with free two-way text messaging using existing satellite airwaves, so the FCC won’t need to make any modifications to its rules. In contrast, T-Mobile and SpaceX intend to use T-mid-band Mobile’s 5G airwaves and offer SMS, MMS, and a few messaging apps. However, Farrar thinks that this more ambitious plan will run into legal obstacles all around the world.
In December 2019, Mark Gurman of Bloomberg was the first to announce that Apple was developing satellite connectivity for iPhones. Gurman claimed earlier this year that Apple was still developing the feature and that it might be available for the iPhone 14 later in the year. According to Gurman, the feature would be designed for usage in emergency scenarios, enabling iPhone users to alert authorities to emergencies and send brief text messages to essential contacts. Gurman also said that the capability would be made accessible on a new Apple Watch.
Gurman claimed that in order for iPhones to connect to satellites, a specific modem chip would be required, indicating that the capability might only work with iPhones 14 and newer. In contrast, T-Mobile claimed that the “great majority” of handsets currently connected to its network will be able to communicate with SpaceX’s satellites using the cellular chips already in place.
There are still unanswered questions regarding Apple’s anticipated satellite connectivity capability, such as whether it will be restricted to the United States or accessible worldwide. On September 7 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, Apple will have its media event. MacRumors will have complete coverage of everything that is disclosed.