Video calls via satellite could become a reality in a very short time

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During MWC 2023, Qualcomm told “01Net” that satellite video calls could arrive as early as 2026. An impressive leap when sending SMS is not yet a standard on the market.

Source: Qualcomm

If MWC 2023 was of course marked by a fundamental trend in connected glasses, particularly in the field of augmented reality, another more discreet trend has emerged: satellite communication via smartphone. .

At the MediaTek stand, you could attend, for example, a simulation of a satellite video call. Elsewhere, at the Qualcomm booth, our colleagues from 01Net he met Francesco Grilli, head of Snapdragon Satellite, the program that aims to democratize satellite communications on the phone.

The video call around the corner

At the moment, the different technologies presented are satisfied with an SOS from Apple, or with the sending of a simple SMS in a few seconds. We were also able to test it at MWC and the result is already very convincing with very reasonable latency. If Qualcomm waits until the end of the year to launch its offering, the San Diego firm is already imagining the future.

In fact, Francesco Grilli advances that “the next step will be audio and video communications”. The Italian engineer adds: “If all goes well, we will start to be able to communicate in this way at best from 2026.”

How is it possible ?

While we thought that a smartphone using satellites would require a large antenna, it turns out that this is not the case and that smartphones released in 2023 are quite capable of talking to these celestial objects. In this perspective, the video also arrives very quickly.

If a simple smartphone can talk to a satellite, this is explained by recent improvements in “ accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers » From now on “integrated as standard”. Precise enough, these sensors allow for a margin of error of less than 20°. This allows you, by pointing your phone in the right direction, to communicate with the sky.

Undoubtedly, pointing out will continue to be an obligation: “When you make a phone call with your phone, you don’t point it. Modems and antennas are mobile and need to find antennas by themselves. This causes a large loss of energy and therefore limits the range of the signals. But if you narrow the transmit/receive beam to a specific point in the sky.”then the range increases the details of the engineer with01Net.

Clouds should not be able to overshadow these projects. Indeed, “the L band used by our partner Iridium extends from 1616 to 1626.5 MHz and rain or clouds have no effect on these frequencies» assures Francesco Grilli.

As you will have understood, by 2026, at the latest, we should begin to be able to experiment with the first video calls through a satellite. The uses for lost adventurers or construction workers in remote areas can be enormous.

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