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Apple’s iOS 18 gives devices greater satellite connectivity & features, iPhones in India may not get them

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Apple has made some massive upgraded satellite connectivity for iPhones through its latest update to iOS. iOS 18 allows users to send and receive messages via satellite when WiFi or cellular service is unavailable.

Previously limited to emergency services, this feature now spans 16 countries, including the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and several European nations. However, it has not yet been rolled out in India, mainly because of compliance issues with India’s local satellite connectivity rules.

In India, satellite communication (satcom) services have yet to start, despite licenses being granted to companies like Eutelsat OneWeb and the Jio-SES partnership for global mobile personal communication via satellite services (GMPCS).

Starlink, owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is also working to obtain a license, pending regulatory approval.

Alongside obtaining licenses, companies must secure satellite spectrum allocation. While the Telecommunications Act calls for administrative allocation, specific rules for this mechanism are still being finalized.

The satellite connectivity feature prompts users to connect directly to the nearest overhead satellite from the Messages app, and allow them to send text, emoji, and tapback messages via iMessage and SMS.

Apple previously partnered with Louisiana-based Globalstar to launch satellite connectivity in 2022, initially available from iPhone 14 models onward.

This update significantly enhances satellite connectivity accessibility, integrating capability within the device itself and eliminating the need for separate satellite terminals. This advancement in direct-to-cell satellite connectivity marks a significant development in telecommunications. While currently complementing terrestrial networks, experts anticipate satellite communication increasingly competing with traditional networks, offering direct mobile customer connectivity.

Companies like Starlink and AST SpaceMobile plan to offer direct satellite connectivity on mobile phones. AST SpaceMobile’s partnership with Verizon to provide direct-to-cell connectivity in the US underscores the expanding potential and reach of satellite communication technologies.


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