iPhone 12 and up might get satellite communication in 2023

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2022
SpaceX and T-Mobile are partnering on a long-term plan to bring satellite internet to cellphones, providing very limited connectivity to even the most remote US locations.




According to the companies, over half a million square miles of US land -- plus surrounding ocean -- cannot receive cell signals at present. Musk and T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert propose utilising SpaceX's Starlink satellites to address the issue.

"The important thing about this is that it means there are no dead zones anywhere in the world for your cell phone," said Musk in a joint statement. "We're incredibly excited to do this with T-Mobile."

"We've always thought differently about what it means to keep customers connected," said T-Mobile's Sievert, "and that's why we're working with the best to deliver coverage above and beyond anything customers have ever seen before."

"More than just a groundbreaking alliance," continued Sievert, "this represents two industry-shaking innovators challenging the old ways of doing things to create something entirely new that will further connect customers and scare competitors."

The plan is to use Starlink's Low Earth Orbit satellites to create a new network on T-Mobile's mid-band spectrum, and do so nationwide. The companies claim that this satellite-to-cellular service will provide coverage "almost anywhere a customer can see the sky."

It's also intended that the new service will be compatible with existing smartphones. Using the mid-band 5G spectrum means that it will require an iPhone 12 or later.

SpaceX and T-Mobile have not committed to a schedule for the launch of the service, however. It's planned to start with a beta test by the end of 2023, assuming that SpaceX's launches take place as scheduled.

Even then, that initial beta is intended to bring text messaging to customers. Voice and data coverage is to follow at an unspecified point. Potential expansion to full data or video streaming is possible, but will likely take some time.

Previously, it was rumored that Apple would introduce satellite communications with the iPhone 13, possibly in just a few markets. More recently, it's been predicted that either the iPhone 14 or iPhone 15 would gain the feature -- and so might the Apple Watch.

Such an addition would obviously require new hardware within the Apple Watch, but it would also mean having access to a network of satellites. Apple may have begun preparing for this.

"There have been signs lately that Apple and its apparent satellite partner Globalstar Inc. might be getting closer to launching such a feature," a report said in April. "In February, Globalstar said it reached an agreement to buy 17 new satellites to help power 'continuous satellite services' for a 'potential -- and unnamed -- customer that had paid it hundreds of millions of dollars."

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,387member
    AI said:
    "We've always thought differently about what it means to keep customers connected," said T-Mobile's Sievert"

    I see what you did there, T-Mo. I wonder what this will cost. I'm barely able to afford typical cell-tower rates as it is. This is a good thing though for those who will be able to afford it and currently have little to no cell coverage. It should be much cheaper than traditional sat phone hardware and plans.

    byronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 11
    Apple’s FAR OUT event.  Hmm wonder if the event name points to the phone / watch having satellite capabilities…
    edited August 2022 ronnwatto_cobraappleinsideruser
  • Reply 3 of 11
    Hey! My friend is on T-Mobile, maybe this will finally give her acceptable coverage!
    byronllkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 11
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 2,902member
    Love this. Hopefully the partnership with spacex grows beyond T-Mobile as a carrier. 

    They seem extremely adaptable as well to be able to deploy and reallocate at the drop of a dime. 
    byronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 11
    byronlbyronl Posts: 369member
    Ouu I like this. Interested to see how Apple fits in/competes with this service.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 11
    thttht Posts: 5,537member
    Hmm... there are moments where I feel having no cell service is great. Going to a national park and not having cell service is nice.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 11
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,636member
    markig1 said:
    Apple’s FAR OUT event.  Hmm wonder if the event name points to the phone / watch having satellite capabilities…
    I was thinking more along the lines of phasing service in by first offering users free iMessage via satellite if no 4G or 3G towers are available. (Voice call support could come later if iMessage support is a success.) But I'm pondering who would be paying for it. I see a few options:

    1. SpaceX probably wouldn't pay for it themselves, because they need paying customers. But SpaceX could fund it to buy public mindshare. Or,
    2. Apple could pay for it themselves, which would either come out of their iPhone sale price, or could come out of iCloud+ (the service could require iCloud+ to be able to use it.) Or Apple could even charge customers directly on a monthly or per-use basis. Or,
    3. Apple could be partnering with a terrestrial phone company who would be footing the bill, but this is tough to believe because this service is intended for areas where there is no text or phone service. Or,
    4. Some combination of the above, and we wouldn't necessarily find out at this event.

    Out of all the options above, I think the iCloud+ requirement is the most likely option. Here's the official Apple definition of iCloud+, and satellite service would certainly fit the term "premium feature."
    iCloud+ gives you everything iCloud offers plus premium features... Note: Not all features are available in all countries or regions.

    P.S. I first mentioned this on another AppleInsider thread two days ago called "Apple's fall iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8 event is on September 7."

    P.S. This type of service would probably be prohibited by a few dozen countries in the world, like China, because it bypasses their control, but there's no reason Apple couldn't offer it in Canada right off the bat.
    edited August 2022 watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 11
    In iMessage, if they are using apple the messages are blue, if they are using peasant phone they are green.  If they go through satellite maybe purple?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 11
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 2,902member
    Feel kinda bad for Apple marketing. 

    Their cool “far out” theme secret just got leaked. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 11
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,636member
    In iMessage, if they are using apple the messages are blue, if they are using peasant phone they are green.  If they go through satellite maybe purple?
    Maybe, but since satellites could potentially carry both iMessage and SMS, that wouldn't make sense. The colours represent the application layer, not the underlying hardware layer.
    watto_cobra
Sign In or Register to comment.