Qualcomm, Iridium partner to bring satellite-based messaging to Android phones

People visit a Qualcomm booth at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Shanghai, China February 23, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

Jan 5 (Reuters) - Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) has partnered with Iridium Communications Inc (IRDM.O) to provide a satellite-based messaging service on premium smartphones running Google's Android operating system, the chipmaker said on Thursday.

The partnership comes months after Apple Inc (AAPL.O) unveiled a similar feature allowing iPhone 14 models to send emergency messages via satellite in some countries such as the United States and Canada. Those phones also contain a Qualcomm chip that can talk to satellites when there is no Wi-Fi or cellular data connection.

Qualcomm said on Thursday the new service, Snapdragon Satellite, will be available in certain regions from the second half of 2023 starting devices using the second generation Snapdragon 8 mobile platform.

Snapdragon Satellite can also be enabled on other devices including laptops, vehicles and tablets, it added, without specifying if those devices would need any special equipment.

Using Qualcomm's technology messages sent through the service will reach Iridium's satellite network. They will then be communicated to the recipient or emergency services.

GPS-based gadget maker Garmin Ltd (GRMN.BN) will coordinate emergency response services to users, Qualcomm said.

Reporting by Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru and Jane Lanhee Lee in San Francisco; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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