MediaTek, the Taiwan-based semiconductor company, has announced a new chip, the MediaTek 6825, that enables any smartphone to send text messages through satellites. This new technology marks a breakthrough in satellite connectivity for mobile devices, and it could revolutionize the way we communicate when we’re outside of mobile network range.
Unlike Apple’s iPhone 14 series and Qualcomm‘s Snapdragon Satellite service, which are proprietary services, MediaTek’s chip links just about any phone, tablet, or other devices to satellite connectivity, leaving it up to OEMs to decide how they want to implement the service. This means that even entry-level smartphones can benefit from satellite connectivity without having to pay a premium.
According to Finbarr Moynihan, vice president of corporate marketing at MediaTek, the chip can be added to any form of 5G or 4G phone, from entry-level all the way to flagship. Furthermore, it doesn’t even need to be used with a device powered by a MediaTek system on a chip; it could work with any chipset.
The MediaTek 6825 chip is designed with the 3GPP Release 17 mobile broadband standard, paving the way for low-bitrate connections between devices on the ground and satellite networks already in space. Essentially, this enables phones to send texts and short bursts of data through satellites, even in areas where there is no mobile network coverage.
One of the key advantages of MediaTek’s solution is that it connects to more distant satellites in geostationary orbit, which means that users don’t have to point their phones to the sky to connect. While it may take text messages longer to relay through geostationary satellites, this is a small price to pay for the convenience of being able to send messages when there is no mobile network coverage.
Looking to the future, MediaTek is already planning for the next phase of satellite connectivity. Release 18, which isn’t due for several years, will pave the way for voice and video to relay through satellites. Even after this, MediaTek believes that there will still be a need for cheaper devices with less advanced modems to take advantage of the company’s standalone satellite-connecting chips.
MediaTek’s new chip is a game-changer in satellite connectivity for mobile devices. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities for communication in areas where there is no mobile network coverage. With the potential for voice and video to be relayed through satellites in the future, we could be on the cusp of a new era of mobile communication.