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MediaTek is set to unveil its own phone-to-satellite communication system next week

The technology will debut on new Motorola smartphones.

SOPA Images via Getty Images

MediaTek is set to demonstrate its new technology that can put two-way satellite communications on smartphones at this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC), which will take place from February 27th to March 2nd. Some of the devices that will show whether the semiconductor's product actually works will come from Motorola. The manufacturer will debut two satellite smartphones, the defy 2 and CAT S75, as well as a Bluetooth accessory that comes equipped with MediaTek's chip at the event.

The company's response to Qualcomm's and Apple's satellite technologies is a standalone chipset that can be added to any 4G or 5G phone. It uses the 3GPP Non-Terrestrial Network standard instead of proprietary technologies like Qualcomm's and Apple's do, which means it can be used with any network that complies with the standard. MediaTek teamed up with a company called Bullitt to use the latter's Satellite Connect service and enable the satellite messaging feature on the aforementioned Motorola devices.

Another difference is that MediaTek's chips connect to Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit satellites instead of to satellites in Low Earth Orbit. The chipmaker says its technology enables not just emergency SOS texts like Apple's can, but also full two-way messaging. That means it can actually receive messages sent via satellite connection and not just send them. The iPhone 14, which debuted Apple's satellite tech, can't receive messages without a traditional cellular connection yet. Meanwhile, devices using Qualcomm's Snapdragon Satellite tech will need to be manually refreshed for new messages.

The Motorola defy 2 smartphone and defy Bluetooth accessory will be released in the second quarter of the year across North America, Latin America and Canada and will be the first devices to offer MediaTek's satellite capabilities.

A table showing how MediaTek's satellite technology differs from Qualcomm's and Apple's.
A table showing how MediaTek's satellite technology differs from Qualcomm's and Apple's. (MediaTek)