Communicating over satellite is a new trend in the smartphone industry. Not only Apple launched an SOS and location-sharing system with the iPhone 14 series, but T-Mobile and SpaceX are working on a more general communication system by using SpaceX's Starlink satellites. Now, it's announced that Bullitt and MediaTek will work together to launch the "first satellite-to-mobile messaging smartphone" in the first three months of 2023.
Bullitt shares that the system will enable seamless messaging between a user connected to a satellite and another connected to a regular cell network. Meanwhile, Apple's system only lets users communicate with emergency services two ways, and location sharing is one way. It's worth mentioning that Bullitt has built rugged phones for well-known brands, primarily Cat phones. The brand has also built the Motorola Defy.
Furthermore, the project is said to have been in the works for 18 months alongside MediaTek. Earlier this year, MediaTek presented its NTN modem – Non-Terrestrial Network – by testing it in lab conditions. The test simulated a connection to a satellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which means 600km/370mi altitude, orbiting at 27,000km/h (17,000mph). With the technology, Bullitt phones will receive a connection and send a message over satellite in around 10 seconds. It will also automatically switch to satellite connectivity when cell and Wi-Fi reception has gotten cut off.
“We have known for a long time that the answer was in satellite but an ‘invisible’ and seamless integration into a smartphone creates enormous technical challenges. MediaTek and Bullitt share a pioneering spirit and a history of innovation so now, nearly two years into our relationship, we jointly stand at the forefront of a new era in telecommunications and the quickest, simplest way for our carrier channel partners to offer total peace of mind to their customers,” writes Richard Wharton, co-founder at Bullitt Group.
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