The race to provide high-speed internet from satellites is well underway – but another, more ambitious competition, to connect directly from space to devices like smartphones, began in earnest earlier this year.
The potential untapped market — which hinges on, but extends beyond, sending a text via space — is spurring a tale of two strategies: Those putting specialized antennae in phones, versus those putting high-powered antennae on the satellites themselves. For some companies, it means billions spent on what could end up being a losing approach.
“The satellite industry is really niche and – if they can tap into connecting billions of smartphones – they can start talking about market sizes that are way greater than they’ve ever been able to address before. Everything before has been in the millions,” Caleb Henry, senior analyst at boutique research firm Quilty Analytics, told CNBC.
A host of projects and partners – from Apple, Iridium, SpaceX, T-Mobile and AT&T, among others – have come to the fore in 2022, at various stages of development to connect directly to smartphones. It’s long been a dream of satellite communications visionaries, but bulky, specialized and typically expensive satellite phones fell short of mass appeal.
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