Recently, Huawei Mate 50 and Apple iPhone 14, two new models equipped with satellite communication, have caused widespread discussion. When mobile phone innovation is increasingly sluggish, consumers are increasingly reluctant to buy new phones since no new surprises every year. That is about to change in the year 2022. The new capability of the two models to make use of mobile phone-satellite communication quickly attracted the attention of a large number of netizens. Now, let’s go deeply into satellite communication and its effect on mobile phones. especially how it will affect sales.
Satellite communication itself is not a new technology, but an extremely mature and widely used communication technology. Satellite communication is directly connected to satellites in space, which can basically cover all the activities that humans can reach.
Satellite Communication and its effect on mobile Phones
It is often used in special fields such as geological exploration, ocean transportation, and forest patrol. Smartphones equipped with satellite communication functions can also keep in touch with the outside world without a signal in some “information wastelands” such as oceans, deserts, and forests.
In some extreme cases, people can send some brief distress messages through the satellite communication function of mobile phones.
The smartphones released by the two companies also brought controversy. After all, satellite communication is not a brand-new technology, and there are special satellite phones in the market. These satellite phones have a wide range of applications in both military and civilian fields.
There are alternatives in the market, and the satellite communication functions disclosed by the two new mobile phones currently only have basic one-way communication capabilities, so why can they still attract widespread attention and discussion? What are mobile phone manufacturers aiming at?
What Can Satellite Communications in Infancy Bring to Mobile Phone Manufacturers?
The new phones released by Huawei and Apple have stirred up a lot of water. But its mobile phone satellite communication function can only send messages one-way, and cannot receive information.
In today’s wide application of satellite phones, why do mobile phone manufacturers go to great pains to realize satellite communication in mobile phones?
3 Major Reasons Why Phone Manufacturers Are Considering Satellite Communication
- To support emergency situations. At present, the expansion of mobile phone scenarios has reached a bottleneck period, and it is difficult to gain insight into and expand new scenarios that are in demand. For special scenarios such as ocean communication, oil exploration, scientific research, or emergency rescue activities in remote areas such as sea, forest, and desert, mobile satellite communication can support emergency communication services.
- Activate the innovation space of the industrial chain. Facing the 6G era, operators, component manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, and others upstream and downstream of the entire satellite communication industry chain are actively deploying. If mobile phone manufacturers participate, it can activate the chain reaction of the industry. The result of participation or not determines whether it is insulated from the value of satellite communication. The leading mobile phone manufacturers play a leading role in the future development of the mobile satellite communication field.
- Occupy the 6G competition point. Of course, mobile phone manufacturers will not stop at the upgrade of a single function or a single scene. They focus on the farther, facing the more advanced next-generation communication network – the 6G era. In the industry, there is no precise definition of 6G, but the consensus is basically that the communication indicators of 6G will be 10-100 times higher than that of 5G. On the basis of 5G, it has further expanded from serving people, people, and things to supporting the efficient interconnection of intelligent bodies, and achieving seamless global coverage of the integration of space, space, and earth.
The vision of 6G Network and Potential Relationship With Satellite Communication
One of the visions of 6G is to achieve seamless global coverage of global communications.
However, it is difficult to achieve this goal on the vast earth. For example, in areas such as large oceans, deserts, and uninhabited areas, it is neither realistic nor economical to build base stations.
As the most important potential technology in the 6G era, satellite communication is an important supplement to the terrestrial communication network.
Therefore, satellite communication + ground communication can truly achieve a better global coverage experience.
Faced with the possibility of a high probability of satellite networking in the 6G era, mobile phone manufacturers deploy satellite communication capabilities in advance to pave the way for the arrival of the 6G era.
Manufacturers Are Desperate To Give Consumers New Innovations
In the increasingly convergent innovation, it is difficult for mobile phone manufacturers to come up with innovative products that affect the market structure.
The withering of innovation has caused mobile phone manufacturers to fall into involution, and enterprises urgently need new scenarios and new products to attract users.
With the entry of large companies and the gradual maturity of the satellite communication industry chain, mobile phone manufacturers have rediscovered the application space in satellite communication.
They have also prepared a technical “granary” in advance for entering a new stage of development in the future.
How to Promote the Development of Satellite Communication?
The technical imagination of mobile phone satellite communication comes from the general trend of the aerospace industry. With the continuous progress of aerospace science and technology, the satellite industry has been developed efficiently.
The emergence of multi-satellite launch technology with one arrow and recoverable launch vehicle technology has continuously reduced the cost of deep space exploration.
The cycle of satellite deployment and the cost of development is also reduced. At the same time, the satellite communication system has also been significantly improved compared to the past, and user access, call quality, data transmission and construction costs have all made significant leaps.
These advances have provided development opportunities for mobile phones to realize satellite communications.
Steps To Be Taken For Mobile Phones To Be Fully Integrated With Satellite Communication
However, for mobile satellite communications, entering the depths of the industry requires the improvement of scale coverage, service quality, and experience.
Mobile satellite communication still needs to be continuously advanced, and this process includes four aspects of industrial advancement:
Step 1: The Development of Low-Orbit Satellites
One of the bases for the realization of mobile phone satellite communication function is the development of low-orbit satellite technology.
The communication capabilities that medium and high-orbit satellites can provide are very limited, while low-orbit satellites can provide higher bandwidth, high-performance global coverage, low latency, and low-cost global interconnection services.
At the same time, because the spectrum resources of satellites are very scarce, applications for low-orbit satellite spectrum and orbital resources follow the principle of “first boarding, first occupying”, and those who register first will have priority. This also means that the development of low-orbit satellites is not only necessary but time-critical.
Step Two: The Improvement of Information Technologies
There is a need to improve information encoding and decoding, data compression, and other technologies.
Due to the limitation of the transmission capacity of satellite communication, it is also necessary to pre-process the transmitted information on the device side to reduce the amount of data transmitted. Information encoding and decoding, data compression, and other technologies need to be iteratively developed to match the improvement of satellite communication transmission efficiency. For example, in the iPhone 14 released by Apple this time, through a custom short text compression algorithm, the amount of information is reduced by 3 times to save the transmitted information capacity.
Step 3: Mobile Phone satellite Communication Equipment Parts
The third step is the integrated design and planning of mobile phone satellite communication equipment parts.
For mobile phones, supporting satellite communication capabilities is not a simple application.
Taking antennas as an example, in order to maintain a good signal, ordinary satellite phones are equipped with long antennas, and generally can only be used in unobstructed outdoor scenes.
Supporting satellite communication requires that the antenna has high power and strong anti-interference. This also makes the power consumption of the satellite phone higher, which requires an additional large storage battery to supplement the power.
For smartphones, the integrated design of various components is mature, and the redundant space is limited. Adding satellite communication components such as antennas to mature mobile phone equipment brings challenges to the design of mobile phone integration.
To increase the satellite communication function, it is necessary to design and plan the deployment of various components of satellite communication on the mobile phone terminal, and further balance power consumption and communication capabilities.
Step 4: Industrial Ecology
The fourth step is to mature the industrial ecology. The final presentation of the satellite communication function of mobile phones requires the coordination of mobile phone manufacturers, operators, software and hardware application ecology, policies, and other parties so that the value of the satellite communication function of mobile phones can be truly appraised.
For example, in China communications industry implements a licensing system. Currently, only a few operators such as China Satcom and China Telecom hold licenses for satellite communications services.
The business operation of mobile phone satellite communication needs to cooperate with operators.
In the future, it is the general trend that mobile phones connect to satellite communications. Connecting low-orbit communication satellites, information compression technology, and the coordination of various industries, this gradual exploration, and continuous improvement measures jointly lay a solid foundation for the arrival of the 6G era.
In the future, the industrial ecology and business model of mobile phone satellite communication must also be sketched out a little bit.
Possible Changes in the Business Model
At this stage, the development of satellite communications still requires a lot of investment. In the long run, the free satellite communication business model is unsustainable, and a big change is bound to occur.
How to design a sustainable business model so that the mobile phone satellite communication industry can develop in a healthy and orderly manner is also an important issue facing the industry.
In the future, the business model of satellite communication may have the following changes.
For the C-side, in the post-market education era, in some special extreme scenarios, simple positioning and calling for help may still be free.
As Huawei’s strategy is now, there will be multiple opportunities to use the help function for free every month. However, more detailed images, videos, and other content-rich transmissions are more likely to be based on the pricing idea of a single charge.
After mobile phone satellite communication becomes more common, the large-scale application will dilute the cost, various applications will become more and more abundant, and the price will be more close to the people.
However, there are also many uncertainties in the changing process of charging and pricing, which may be affected by changes in business formats such as operators, supply chains, and mobile phone manufacturers’ development ecology. However, the era of mobile satellite communication with rich applications and good experience will still take a long time to “cultivate”.
For the B-side, some special services, such as ocean fishing, oil exploration, ocean shipping, and other scenarios, have become the main force and value feedback method for the next stage of satellite communications.
These areas with special needs for satellite networks can empower different services and enhance commercial value with the assistance of mobile phone satellite communications. And this requires mobile satellite communication to form more solutions that integrate with the industry, clarify the difference between itself and satellite phones, and build a moat for the B-end market.
On the operator side, satellite communications will bring far-reaching changes. The continuous development of terrestrial communication networks has led to an increasing number of base stations.
Summary and Conclusion
Whether it is a new base station or operation and maintenance, cost pressure and carbon emission pressure are flaws that cannot be ignored. Facing the shortage of spectrum resources and the surge in network construction costs, the future 6G network will most likely include satellite communications.
Relying on low-orbit satellite networking to build a mobile network coverage that integrates space. Space and ground are one of the core development directions of operators in the agreement stage. At the current stage, it is actively exploring satellite communication services and enhancing related investment, which is more in line with the commercial needs of operators.
Don’t worry, no matter what the business model changes, satellite communications will be free for a long time in terms of humanitarian assistance.
Facing 6G, it is inevitable for the mobile phone industry to start exploring satellite communications. Only by deploying as soon as possible can we gain a leading edge in future competition.
With a high probability, 6G will realize the network construction of the integration of space, space, and ground. Equipped with satellite communication functions will also become a necessity for future mobile phones.
Smartphones in the future, whether simple emergency help functions or richer information transmission and interaction, can be realized through satellite communication. Although this goal requires trekking and waiting for a long time, the wind direction of the industry has already blown, and giants have jumped into it.
From a long-term perspective, systematic changes in the satellite communication industry may occur in mobile phones. The satellite communication function in the smartphone is like a butterfly flapping its wings, which may start a chain reaction in the satellite communication industry. One change after another is like the meshing of gears, which is driving the continuous renewal and evolution of the industry.