Satellite connectivity has been a big deal in the smartphone industry in 2023, with Qualcomm announcing “Snapdragon Satellite” for smartphones in January and Samsung debuting its take on the tech for Exynos chips. Now, MediaTek is laying out its plans for satellite connectivity, which will show up in actual devices quite soon.

At MWC 2023, MediaTek is announcing support for 3GPP Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) in its chips, with an aim at smartphones. That technology will be available in smartphones launching imminently, and MediaTek is also announcing that it will launch support for 5G New Radio NTN (NR-NTN) in the future.

Like efforts from Qualcomm and Samsung, MediaTek’s technology will allow for two-way messaging via satellite in an effort to “fill the gaps” left by traditional networks, especially in emergency situations. MediaTek is starting with smartphones but intends to expand this technology to other form factors in the future, including cars.

Satellite networks aim to fill gaps in mobile coverage, offering a reliable way for devices to communicate in remote locations. With satellite-enabled smartphones, consumers can stay in touch when they are hiking, driving in secluded areas, on a boat, or in other situations where there has traditionally been no connectivity; this will not only provide users with peace of mind, but also enable them to request assistance in emergency situations. Today the biggest market opportunity for 3GPP NTN technology is smartphones, although there is a growing demand for satellite connectivity in IoT applications such as agriculture, forestry, and logistics. The automotive industry will also be a major market for satellite communications technology in the coming years.

MediaTek confirmed that Bullitt will be the first to launch satellite connectivity based on MediaTek hardware, starting with the CAT S75 smartphone as well as the Motorola Defy 2 smartphone. CAT S75 is available for pre-order starting today, while Defy 2 is launching in Q2.

But, more interestingly, MediaTek will also provide the foundation for satellite connectivity in the Motorola Defy Satellite Link.

This Bluetooth accessory allows users on either Android or iOS to connect their smartphone to satellites using the Bullitt Satellite Connect platform. This supports two-way messaging, location sharing, and emergency SOS. The accessory will be available starting in Q2 of this year for $99 or for $149 with 12 months of service (up to 30 two-way messages per month).

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