Qualcomm announced at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) that multiple phone makers including Chinese Xiaomi, Oppo and Honor are bringing satellite communication capabilities to their phones, Nikkei Asia reported. However, manufacturers didn’t provide details about what devices will first have these features and when the companies would launch them.
The announcement comes as leading chipmakers around the globe, including MediaTek and Samsung, are also racing to bring satellite-based communications to mass market smartphones in hopes of kickstarting a sluggish mobile market.
"Snapdragon Satellite enables [companies] to offer truly global coverage from pole to pole and can support two-way messaging for emergency use, SMS [short message service] messaging and other messaging applications," Mike Roberts, Qualcomm's vice president of global product marketing, said at a media briefing on Monday.
The announcement was made ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the most important industry fair for wireless technology.
Qualcomm rival MediaTek of Taiwan made its own announcement ahead of MWC, saying it is partnering with Motorola, a Lenovo Group company, and Bullitt, a U.K.-based builder of rugged mobile devices, to demonstrate 5G non-terrestrial networks (NTN) on smartphones.
MediaTek's first approach is to incorporate such tech into a standalone chip -- dubbed the MT6825 -- that can be used in flagship smartphones to offer this new communication feature, said the company's president, Joe Chen. "We will later integrate the satellite tech into the modem and the core system on a chip as well," Chen told Nikkei Asia.