SATCOM or Satellite Communications, is going to become a mainstream technology when it comes to use through mobile phones. This includes calls, messages and broadband data. The service is currently only used for messages sent during emergency situations.
Leading chip manufacturers like Qualcomm and MediaTek have said that they have already made chipsets that support SATCOM, according to a report by ET.
“Right now, it’s catering to the niche market, but we expect that eventually it will cater to the mainstream consumers and businesses,” MediaTek managing director Anku Jain told ET.
“For the technology to become mainstream, more and more OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) need to adopt it and we will see how that happens. But from MediaTek point of view, we are ready with the solution,” Jain added.
The iPhone 14 and 15 variants are two of the five or six handsets now on the market that allow satellite communication. More OEMs are anticipated to adopt the technology in the future.
“The technology is already there, and we have the chips to support direct to device satcom services,” Qualcomm India president Savi Soin told ET.
Better interoperability would result from the widespread adoption of open global standards by OEM manufacturers and satellite operators. However, experts warned that it would be difficult to forecast how the market would develop if players adopted propriety-driven rules.
Industry players like Amazon and SpaceX owned Starlink are pushing boundaries when it comes to developing software and technology for SATCOM.
Back home in India, the government may soon grant mobility services authorisation to GMPCS (broadband-from-space) licence holders. These licence holders include telecom rivals Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio.
While satcom services now complement terrestrial services, experts believe that as technology advances, they will eventually be able to compete.
In the future, a subscriber could not be aware if they received a call or message on a SATCOM network or a terrestrial network, they continued.
According to MediaTek, it is supporting satellite communication based on universally accepted open standards that can benefit from the scale economies already present in the current global mobile cellular ecosystem.
By doing this, SATCOM will go from a specialist market to the mainstream, where it will be used by businesses and consumers in gadgets that can effortlessly switch between satellite and cellular networks to offer a constant connection.
A non-terrestrial network (NTN), which permits data connectivity outside terrestrial networks and enables users to constantly remain connected, is what satellite connectivity is known as. Users can send and receive messages, receive emergency warnings, obtain location data, and, in the future, make real-time voice and video calls and have seamless experiences in smartphone apps because to NTN's ability to replace coverage gaps in cellular networks.