Upcoming offerings could allow video sharing via satellite

The iPhone 14 debuting with satellite connectivity got the Android world racing to equal or surpass Apple’s offering, but without the advantages of tight control on every aspect of the hardware and software. So now, modem manufacturers are teaming up with smartphone OEMs to enable satellite internet for the average smartphone. Samsung, with its Exynos processors and modems, is one of a few manufacturers in a position similar to Apple — and the company has now revealed that its Exynos Modem 5300 is capable of 5G satellite connectivity.

Samsung recently announced its Exynos Modem 5300 has achieved satellite connectivity with non-terrestrial networks (NTN). The biggest advantage of an NTN network is superior reach in remote locations, oceans, and valleys where conventional cellular connectivity is poor or non-existent. Much like Starlink internet, NTN networks rely on a connected web of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to beam data between senders and receivers. Samsung explains that reception for NTN networks can be further improved by unmanned aircraft in disaster-stricken areas.

The difference between traditional geostationary satellites and LEO satellites like Starlink’s is staggering.

While Apple's satellite connectivity implementation is rather rudimentary and limited to text messages that can take several minutes to send, Samsung claims the Exynos Modem 5300 has laid the groundwork for future modems which could support image sharing, video sharing, and two-way text messaging via satellite.

We can attribute a part of the bold claim in this reference design to Samsung's focus on minimizing frequency offsets caused by Doppler shift — a phenomenon where wave frequency or wavelength could change if the wave source is mobile. In NTN networks, Satellites are in motion because they orbit the earth, and the smartphone's position is changing thanks to the Earth's rotation. Because of the constant relative motion between both entities, the transmitted radio waves are prone to distortion and Doppler shift.

Accounting for the shift and counteracting it is essential to establish stable high-speed links between satellites and smartphones. Samsung Electronics says the new modem's tech fully complies with worldwide protocols like the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). As a result, all smartphones using the Exynos Modem 5300 or subsequent NTN-capable 6G hardware will be compatible with carriers and hardware OEMs worldwide.

Meanwhile, Google and Qualcomm are working together to develop Snapdragon Satellite, a similar hardware component for the 5G Modem-RF system enabling satellite communication. This would make most modern Qualcomm-powered flagships capable satphones as well. On the software front, Google has laid the groundwork for the next leap in connectivity with Android 14. All things considered, the wait may not be too long for smart satellite phones.

Conclusion on Samsung’s bringing satellite connectivity to its Exynos chips

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