SpaceX and T-Mobile have announced last week that they would bring direct satellite connectivity to cellphones, a Google executive confirmed on Thursday that they’re now designing the ‘next version of Android’ to support such coverage from space.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s Senior Vice President of Platforms & Ecosystems took to Twitter this development when he reminisced how it was a stretch for them to get 3G and WiFi working on their launch of HTC Dream/ T-Mobile G1 in 2008.
Wild to think about user experiences for phones that can connect to satellites. When we launched G1 in ’08 it was a stretch to get 3G + Wifi working. Now we’re designing for satellites. Cool! Excited to support our partners in enabling all of this in the next version of Android!
— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) September 1, 2022
He said that their team is now “Designing for satellites… Excited to support our partners in enabling all of this in the next version of Android (14),” expressing his wonder on how is gonna be the ‘user experience for phones that can connect to satellites.’
Space Explored explained that the speeds and connection are far more limited than the standard 4G or 5G connectivity, “There will be just two to four megabits of bandwidth per cellular zone.”
And according to 9to5Google, satellite connectivity could support “one to two thousand simultaneous voice calls or hundreds of thousands of text messages that could be sent depending on the length of the text message.”
With SpaceX officially entering the Philippines in the Q4 2022, this satellite mobile coverage may be helpful, but take this with a grain of salt since the Elon Musk-owned company is aiming to complement internet service yet via Starlink in the region, especially in remote areas.
The direct satellite connection will technically work with existing iPhone and Android phones through the existing network bands, and the service is being targeted for beta availability in late 2023.