The termination will be effective from 3 December  

Qualcomm and Iridium Communications have ended a deal that was set to provide satellite communication services to mobile phones. 

The partnership, which was confirmed in January, had planned to enable satellite messaging and emergency services in smartphones powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Mobile Platforms, which would be delivered through Iridium’s satellite constellation. 

The emergency messaging was expected to launch in the second half of this year for premium Android smartphones in select regions.  

However, although the technology developed by the partnership was successful, smartphone manufacturers have not included the new technology in their new devices, so the partnership has been terminated by Qualcomm. 

“While I’m disappointed that this partnership didn’t bear immediate fruit, we believe the direction of the industry is clear toward increased satellite connectivity in consumer devices,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch in a press release. 

“Led by Apple today, MNOs and device manufacturers still plan, over time, to provide their customers with expanded coverage and new satellite-based features, and our global coverage and regulatory certainty make us well suited to be a key player in this emerging market. User experience will be critical to their success,” the statement continued. 

Iridium also confirmed that they are now seeking to work directly with smartphone manufacturers, developers, and chipmakers for existing and future service plans. 

The Iridium share price fell by 8% upon the news. 

Direct-to-mobile satellite services are becoming an increasingly hot topic across the telecoms ecosystem. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is currently seeking the approval of the Federal Communications Commission to fast-track its own direct-to-mobile satellite service. Meanwhile, the company’s rival AST SpaceMobile continues to make its own breakthroughs, notably making the first 5G call from space back in September. 

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