Satellite emergency calls: Apple privatizes Globalstar network, Elon Musk offers Starlink help

From November, US and Canadian iPhone 14 users will be able to rely on their smartphones to call for help in all circumstances, especially when the device is not covered by a cellular or Wi-Fi network. In this case, the iPhone will attempt to pick up a satellite signal, after asking the user vital questions to assess their condition. All of this will be handled by specially trained Apple employees, who will then notify the emergency services.

This service will be free for two years; Apple did not say what it will cost afterward. The manufacturer did not develop its own constellation of satellites (with its deep pockets, that would not have been so far-fetched), but it called on Globalstar. The American company, which in 2020 had announced that it was working with a ” potential client “, confirmed yesterday that it was Apple.

The agreement sealed between the two companies specifies that 85% of the Globalstar network capacities are allocated to Apple. And the Apple will pay 95% of the expenses related to the new satellites and the associated costs. In other words, it’s almost as if Cupertino had just acquired a constellation of satellites! However, the Globalstar network seems very modest compared to that of Starlink: at the latest news, the first has 85 satellites in low orbit, the second about 3,000.

It’s unclear whether Apple intends to roll out the service beyond the first two announced countries, but it’s likely that Globalstar isn’t enough. It is in this context that Elon Musk – boss of SpaceX, and therefore of its subsidiary Starlink – announced on Twitter that he had had conversations ” promising with Apple on Starlink connectivity.

We will be wary of the fanciful billionaire’s grand declarations, but an agreement would make sense in light of the agreement between Starlink and T-Mobile announced at the end of August: the operator’s subscribers will be able to hook up the signal from Starlink satellites to make calls , texting and using some data. For its part, the day before theevent from Apple, Huawei unveiled a satellite connection function for the new Mate 50 range. The smartphones hang on the Chinese BeiDou satellite network.

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