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Apple to spend $450M on SOS via satellite for iPhones

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Apple has announced it will invest $450 million from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund to develop the  infrastructure that allows off-grid backpackers to call for help when outside mobile coverage.

Is that all there is?

Apple’s iPhone 14 is the company’s first-ever satellite phone. Or to be more accurate, it’s a step toward becoming one. You can’t make calls on it, but you will soon be able to use the satellite connection to send messages to emergency services from across the US and Canada. This could be a life saver.

Apple has said it will offer Emergency SOS over satellite as a free service for the next two years; today’s release confirms it will launch this month.

In a statement, Apple said it is spending $450 million to help put in place the critical infrastructure its Emergency SOS via satellite for iPhone 14 devices requires. That means at least some of this cash is being spent to improve and expand the infrastructure of its satellite partner, Globalstar.

Today’s release specifically cites investments across Globalstar’s existing US ground stations in Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, Puerto Rico, and Texas. Apple also said more than 300 Globalstar employees now support the new service.

The idea that the company is investing millions in a service for off-grid backpackers seems a little far-fetched, so it’s clear that Apple and Globalstar have bigger plans around satellite connectivity and Apple products. They must. Under terms of the deal between the two companies, Apple has agreed to pay 95% of the capital costs associated with the service, and Globalstar intends to launch many more satellites by the end of 2025.

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