Too late for the Galaxy S23 line, Samsung announces a 5G modem chip for phone to satellite connectivity

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Too late for the Galaxy S23, Samsung announces a 5G modem chip for phone to satellite connectivity
Earlier this month we explained why Samsung didn't include a satellite connectivity feature with the new Galaxy S23 series. After all, both Apple and Huawei released handsets that will allow users to report an emergency by text message through a satellite if no cellular signal can be obtained. The head of Samsung's MX (mobile experience) unit, TM Roh, said that the technology was too limited.

At the time, Roh said, "When there is the right timing, infrastructure, and the technology [is] ready, then of course for Samsung Galaxy, for our mobile division, we would also actively consider adopting this feature as well." Today, Samsung announced that it has created a 5G modem chip that uses non-terrestrial networks (NTN) technology that supports direct communication between smartphones and satellites in remote areas that lack cellular signals. This technology will be integrated into Sammy's Exynos modem chips.

Samsung sees this technology being used on unmanned aircraft and flying cars

NTN technology uses satellites and other "non-terrestrial vehicles" to deliver wireless connectivity to areas where building a terrestrial network is not feasible or possible such as over mountains, in the middle of the ocean, or a desert. Looking to the future, Samsung says that NTN technology will be important. "It will also be critical in assuring operability in disaster areas and powering future urban air mobility (UAM) such as unmanned aircraft and flying cars," the company writes.

Samsung did not announce which phones will be the first to use the new modem. It is too late for the Galaxy S23 line, but the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 are up next with a possible August release.

Min Goo Kim, Executive Vice President of CP (Communication Processor) Development at Samsung Electronics said, "This milestone builds on our rich legacy in wireless communications technologies, following the introduction of the industry’s first commercial 4G LTE modem in 2009 and the industry’s first 5G modem in 2018. Samsung aims to take the lead in advancing hybrid terrestrial-NTN communications ecosystems around the world in preparation for the arrival of 6G."

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Samsung noted in its release that future Exynos modems will support two-way texting along with the ability to share high-definition images and videos. In other words, Samsung envisions a time when satellite connectivity is made available for non-emergency use. Apple also has a patent that will allow future iPhone models to send images and video via satellite.

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Apple's Emergency SOS via satellite uses on-screen directions to help an iPhone 14 series user connect to a Globalstar satellite. Once connected, the user can share important information with emergency responders via text. The service currently supports the use of English, American Spanish, Canadian French, French, and German. While eventually Apple will ask users to pay for a subscription to access the service, at the moment it is free.

The first smartphone to feature satellite connectivity was not an iPhone

The first smartphones to be introduced with satellite connectivity were the Huawei Mate 50 and Mate 50 Pro which were introduced a day before Apple unveiled the iPhone 14 series. Apple's service has already been credited with saving three lives. A man in Alaska was stranded and had to have his iPhone 14 connect to a satellite in order to get rescued by first responders.

Last month, two women were stranded while traveling in Canada and headed to Alberta. The area they were in did not have any cellular connectivity but one of the women did own an iPhone 14 series model. Using the Emergency SOS via Satellite feature, the pair were able to summon help. Now here's the scary part. Emergency responders estimated that if it weren't for the iPhone's Emergency SOS via Satellite feature, it might have taken them a week to find the two women.

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