The San Diego Tribune: Carlsbad’s Viasat is betting on space satellites so you don’t drop texts. How would that work?

Tech companies like SpaceX, Apple and Viasat are investing millions of dollars in satellite networks that will expand smartphone and device coverage beyond Earth’s cell towers.

A growing field of technology companies will spend millions of dollars this year on space satellites so you can keep texting. Their goal is to build global satellite networks so phones, computers, cars and people never lose coverage.

It won’t replace the cellular service you pay for from companies like Verizon and AT&T, but it would be an added benefit to cover dead zones. That means you might soon have an option to pay extra to get satellite texting on your phone while you hike the mountains or get stuck in an emergency off the grid.

These direct-to-device networks — which are sometimes called non-terrestrial networks or D2D networks — enable devices to stay connected through satellites in space. For rural communities or businesses operating in remote regions, it could bridge coverage gaps that are not served by cell towers and antennas on Earth.

Satellite-connected phones and devices aren’t a new concept. Iridium, a satellite communications firm based in Virginia, introduced its satellite mobile phone in the late 1990s. But, that was before everyone had a phone in their pocket.

Today, the idea is being more widely adopted as a new avenue to make money. There’s increasing momentum behind connecting not just phones, but cars, cows and entire industries to satellite networks, and more companies want a piece of it.

Apple invested $450 million in satellite communications firm Globalstar to bring emergency SOS texting to its latest iPhones. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has partnered with T-Mobile to offer satellite texting to U.S. customers in the coming year.

And the latest player to plant their flag in the direct-to-device space is Carlsbad’s Viasat.

The local telecommunications company has partnered with Skylo Technologies, a non-terrestrial network service provider, to provide direct-to-device services globally. It marks a new revenue opportunity for Viasat in the IoT (Internet of Things) space at a scale it hasn’t previously delved into, said Anton Monk, vice president of wireless initiatives at Viasat.

Read the full article here.

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