Apple’s newest iPhone 14 models feature a new “Emergency SOS via satellite” capability delivered via Globalstar’s constellation of LEO satellites, which cover approximately 80% of the Earth’s surface.
Designed for emergency communications when out of cellular or Wi-Fi range, the iPhone 14 user must have a clear view of the sky. Texting can take from seconds to several minutes. Messages are relayed from earth-to-ground stations to the nearest emergency service providers. Messages are sent in encrypted form, and decrypted by Apple before being passed along to the relevant emergency services dispatcher, or the emergency relay center. Apple will set up emergency relay specialists to communicate verbally with emergency service providers not receiving texts. In addition, Apple’s Find My feature can be used via satellite to share off-grid locations with friends or relatives.
Apple says the service isfree for two years with the activation of any iPhone 14 model. Connection and response times vary based on location, site conditions, and other factors.
Emergency SOS via satellite will be available with an iOS 16 software update coming in November 2022.
Separately, Globalstar confirmed via an SEC filing that it has won a contract to provide satellite service to Apple for the new iPhone 14 capability. Globalstar said the companies have completed feasibility testing, material upgrades to Globalstar’s ground network, construction of 10 new gateways around the world. Globalstar has also launched a ground spare satellite and finished in-field system testing. Apple has agreed to pay Globalstar a recurring service fee, as well as payments for operating expenses, certain capital expenditures, bonus payments, etc.
- In December 2016, the FCC adopted rules permitting Globalstar to deploy a terrestrial low-power broadband network using 11.5 MHz of the Company’s 2.4 GHz spectrum.