Apple announced a $450 million investment from it’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund to provide critical infrastructure that supports Emergency SOS via satellite for iPhone 14 models. Available to customers in the U.S. and Canada beginning in late November, the new service will enable iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models to connect directly to a satellite, enabling messaging with emergency services when outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage.
A majority of the funding goes to Globalstar, a global satellite service headquartered in Covington, Lou., with facilities across the U.S. Apple’s investment provides critical enhancements to Globalstar’s satellite network and ground stations, ensuring iPhone 14 users are able to connect to emergency services when off the grid. At Globalstar, more than 300 employees support the new service.
The Emergency SOS via satellite service utilizes the spectrum in L- and S-Bands, specially designated for mobile satellite services by ITU Radio Regulations. When a user makes an Emergency SOS via satellite request, the message is received by one of Globalstar’s 24 satellites in low-Earth orbit traveling at speeds of approximately 16,000 MPH. The satellite then sends the message down to custom ground stations located at key points all over the world.
Once received by a ground station, the message is routed to emergency services that can dispatch help, or a relay center with emergency specialists if local emergency services cannot receive text messages.
“The launch of Emergency SOS via satellite direct to iPhone is a generational advancement in satellite communications, and we are proud that Globalstar’s satellites and spectrum assets will play a central role in saving lives,” said Jay Monroe, Globalstar’s executive chairman. “With Apple’s infrastructure investment, we’ve grown our teams in California and elsewhere to construct, expand, and upgrade our ground stations, and we look forward to the next chapter in Globalstar’s lifesaving technology.”
The ground stations use new high-power antennas designed and manufactured by Cobham Satcom in Concord, Calif.. Cobham’s employees engineer and manufacture the high-powered antennas, which will receive signals transmitted by the satellite constellation. Along with communicating via text with emergency services, iPhone users can launch their Find My app and share their location via satellite when there is no cellular and Wi-Fi connection.
To increase reliability and coverage, these new antennas were installed in all Globalstar worldwide ground stations, including new ground stations in Nevada and Hawaii, as well as existing facilities in Texas, Alaska, Florida and Puerto Rico. Several antennas at each ground station communicate with the satellites and relay the information provided by the user so they can get the help they need.
To connect iPhone with the satellite network, users communicate over the mobile satellite services spectrum, which Globalstar has operated in the U.S. for the past 20 years. With upgraded ground stations, and soon an updated satellite constellation, Apple and Globalstar will ensure the spectrum continues to enable emergency services.