Tim Farrar, a satellite communications consultant at the California research firm Telecom, Media, and Finance Associates predicts that Apple will finally release the highly anticipated satellite connectivity feature for the iPhone 14 next month.
Several tweets from Farrar suggest that yesterday’s announcement of satellite connectivity from T-Mobile and SpaceX was timed to beat Apple’s announcement of satellite connectivity from the iPhone in cooperation with Globalstar.
Apple is planning a press conference on September 7 at the Steve Jobs Theater, and the “Far Out” theme and night sky artwork have led some to speculate that the company would disclose satellite connectivity.
Globalstar said in February that it has purchased 17 additional satellites in order to supply “continuous satellite services” to an unnamed “potential customer,” which could be Apple. Apple’s service, according to Farrar, will use preexisting satellite spectrum and will be given for free at launch, but exclusively for two-way text messaging.
However, Farrar is concerned that T-Mobile and SpaceX’s more ambitious plan to enable SMS text messages, MMS, and select messaging apps by utilizing T-mid-band Mobile’s 5G airwaves would run into regulatory problems around the world.
Mark Gurman of Bloomberg was the first to reveal that Apple was working on satellite connectivity for iPhones in December of 2019. Gurman predicted earlier this year that the feature would arrive in the iPhone 14 later this year, suggesting that Apple was still working on it.
According to Gurman, the function might be available on a forthcoming Apple Watch and would be designed for usage in crises, allowing iPhone users to notify authorities and send brief text messages to emergency contacts.
Gurman claims that in order for iPhones to connect to satellites, a specialized modem chip is required, therefore it’s possible that this feature will only work with iPhone 14 and later models. T-Mobile, on the other hand, claimed that the “great majority of handsets” already on its network will be able to connect to SpaceX’s satellites with their existing cellular chips.
Whether or if Apple’s alleged satellite connectivity function will be available outside of the United States is an open question. On September 7 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, Apple will host a media event, and MacRumors will provide complete coverage of the event.