Posts with «telecommunication» label

Google Pixel 9 phones might have emergency satellite messaging

It often feels like we live in a fully connected world, but anyone who has been caught without a signal at a time of need can tell you it's far from true. Emergency satellite connectivity is a solution to this problem, and one the Google Pixel 9 series and next-generation Google Fold will allegedly offer, according to Android Authority's Kamila Wojciechowska. The feature will purportedly be available for T-Mobile customers first, thanks to the network provider's partnership with SpaceX to create satellite messaging. It could become available on other networks in the future. 

The messaging service will allegedly ask users questions such as "What best describes your situation?" and "Are there weapons involved?" It's unclear whether the feature will be free for Google Pixel 9 and next-gen Google Fold users. T-Mobile hasn't confirmed pricing for its satellite messaging service in previous announcements. 

If the news is true, Google would be following in the footsteps of Apple, which launched its own Emergency SOS satellite feature in late 2022 for iPhone 14 users in countries such as the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The tool has since expanded to include the iPhone 15 and countries such as Australia and New Zealand, which have mass wilderness areas where cellular service is absent. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

You can grab the Nothing Phone 2 for $74 off right now

Amazon has the Nothing Phone 2 on sale for the first time since its launch. The offbeat mainstream smartphone alternative is $74 off its usual price. The deal includes the version with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and it’s ready for activation on T-Mobile or AT&T.

The Nothing Phone 2 has an unusual design, with a transparent back revealing an eye-pleasing arrangement of its internal hardware. The aesthetic is a throwback to tech from the late 1990s and early 2000s, like Apple’s iMac G3 and Nintendo’s Game Boy Color. Meanwhile, the Glyph Interface on the phone’s back uses LED strips to show customizable lights and patterns for your notifications. It’s a charming package that stands out in a sea of smartphone sameness.

Engadget’s Sam Rutherford reviewed the phone in 2023, and he noted its eye-catching hardware design and Monochrome UI in its software. Nothing isn’t marketing its phone based on record-breaking specs, but the startup still made a phone that “never felt slow” while being “well-equipped with handy features like reverse wireless charging.”

The phone runs on Nothing OS 2 (currently, it’s on 2.5.3) on top of Android 14. It has a 6.7-inch OLED display, a 4,700mAh battery and a pair of 50MP rear cameras (main and ultra-wide).

However, note that the phone is only compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks in the US — not Verizon, Sprint, Cricket or other CDMA-based carriers. Nothing only brought its handsets (officially) to America with the current generation of hardware, so perhaps future models will offer broader stateside carrier support.

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at

US cellphone outage hits thousands of AT&T users nationwide

A widespread AT&T outage has impacted over 70,000 customers as of 8AM ET, according to tracking site Downdetector. Most of these issues were centered in Houston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Atlanta. This impacted cellular service and data connections, with many customers noting that they couldn’t even contact 911.

It’s still unclear as to what caused the service interruption, as it’s ongoing. AT&T has issued a statement to CNBC, writing that it is “working urgently to restore service.” The company encourages customers to make use of Wi-Fi calling until the problem is handled.

Thousands of Verizon and T-Mobile customers have also reported outages, but both companies said that those impacted had been trying to contact AT&T numbers. The market has declared this a serious problem, as AT&T shares are down nearly three percent since trading opened this morning.

Cellular interruptions are a regular part of life, but the fact that many impacted customers cannot contact 911 and other emergency services is particularly worrisome. The San Francisco Fire Department has urged city residents to try calling 911 from a landline or to “get ahold of a friend or family member” who has signed up for a different carrier.

We are aware of an issue impacting AT&T wireless customers from making and receiving any phone calls (including to 911).

We are actively engaged and monitoring this.

The San Francisco 911 center is still operational.

If you are an AT&T customer and cannot get through to 911,…


Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens noted that the city employees could make and receive 911 calls, but that many AT&T customers could not. Dickens has suggested that city residents contact AT&T for service inquiries, and not Atlanta’s emergency services system. The Massachusetts State Police echoed this sentiment, noting that customers had been flooding its 911 center with inquiries about cellular service. “Please do not do this,” the law enforcement agency wrote on X.

This is an ongoing issue and we’ll update this story when the service is restored or when AT&T issues an update on the cause.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

SpaceX and T-Mobile send the first text messages from orbiting Starlink satellites

SpaceX sent and received its first text messages sent via T-Mobile using its D2D (direct-to-device) Starlink satellites launched just over a week ago, the company announced. First revealed in August 2022, the project aims to provide satellite internet connectivity to regular cell phones so that T-Mobile customers can stay online even when they're in a terrestrial dead zone. 

T-Mobile said that it aims to publicly launch text services with T-Mobile in 2024, with voice, data and IoT (internet of things) plans coming in 2025. Globally, SpaceX has partnered with Rogers in Canada, Australia's Optus, KDDI in Japan and others. 

The scheme requires larger, special versions of the Starlink satellites with D2D capability. SpaceX launched the first six of those on January 2, completing early tests with no issues. "On Monday, January 8, less than 6 days after launch, we sent and received our first text messages to and from unmodified cell phones on the ground to our new satellites in space using TMobile network spectrum... [indicating that] the system works," SpaceX wrote in a blog post. 


When the plan was announced, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said the technology is like putting a cellular tower in the sky. He added that it could one day eliminate dead zones, allowing people to easily get in touch with loved ones even if they're in the middle of the ocean. 

SpaceX said that the system, which uses LTE/4G (not 5G protocols) is a bit more complicated than cell towers in the sky, though. Since the satellites move at tens of thousands of miles per hour relative to the Earth, data must be handed off seamlessly between them. Doppler shift, timing delays and the relatively low transmission power of smartphones must also be accounted for. 

The two companies aren't the first to test such a system. Working with communications specialist AST SpaceMobile, AT&T successfully conducted the first two-way satellite audio call on its network in April, calling a number in Japan with a stock Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone. AT&T also complained to the FCC that SpaceX and T-Mobile's plan was "woefully insufficient" regarding the risk of harmful interference to ground-based networks. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Apple extends free emergency SOS satellite access for existing iPhone 14 owners

It has been a year since Apple enabled emergency SOS via satellite on all iPhone 14 units in the US. The feature lets users text emergency services for help when they don't have cell service. The company is offering two years of free access upon activating an iPhone 14 or iPhone 15.

Apple has not said how much it will charge for the feature when the free access period ends. However, users won't have to worry about that for a couple more years. Apple says existing iPhone 14 users (i.e. those who activated their phone before Wednesday in a country where the service is available) will get free access for an extra year.

"Emergency SOS via satellite has helped save lives around the world. From a man who was rescued after his car plummeted over a 400-foot cliff in Los Angeles to lost hikers found in the Apennine Mountains in Italy, we continue to hear stories of our customers being able to connect with emergency responders when they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to," Kaiann Drance, Apple’s vice president of worldwide iPhone product marketing, said. "We are so happy iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 users can take advantage of this groundbreaking service for two more years for free."

Apple is extending the free access period for many users not long after it emerged that Qualcomm's bid to offer a similar feature on Android devices has sputtered out. Iridium, its partner on the Snapdragon Satellite project, said smartphone makers have opted not to include the tech in their devices. Qualcomm noted that OEMs are looking for "standards-based solutions." The costs involved in the initiative may have put them off too.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Qualcomm's satellite texting plan is dead because phone makers aren't interested

Back in January, Qualcomm announced Snapdragon Satellite, a project that aimed to let Android users send texts via satellite when they don't have cell service. It would have been the company's answer to Apple's emergency SOS feature that debuted in the iPhone 14 lineup. However, the initiative hasn't worked out as Qualcomm hoped.

Qualcomm is ending its Snapdragon Satellite partnership with satellite phone maker Iridium. Although the pair "successfully developed and demonstrated the technology" smartphone makers "have not included the technology in their devices," Iridium said in a statement.

Smartphone makers have “indicated a preference towards standards-based solutions” for satellite connectivity, Qualcomm told CNBC. In other words, they're looking for a more open approach that doesn't necessarily position Qualcomm as a go-between. As The Verge notes, the cost of satellite texting may have dissuaded some manufacturers too. Apple is footing the bill for emergency SOS for the time being.

Now that its agreements with Qualcomm are coming to an end, Iridium says it will be able to work directly with smartphone makers, mobile OS developers and other chipmakers. Apple, meanwhile, has expanded its emergency SOS feature by adding crash detection integration in iPhone 15.

Elsewhere, Starlink is set to roll out its satellite SMS service next year. It plans to eventually offer satellite-powered voice and data functions directly to phones, meaning users won't necessarily need to have a Starlink terminal nearby.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

SpaceX will ramp up its launches in 2024 for Starlink's satellite-to-cell service

SpaceX is planning to launch as many rockets as it can over the next two-and-a-half months in an attempt to fly 100 flights by the end of the year, company exec Bill Gerstenmaier recently told the US Senate Subcommittee on Space and Science. He also revealed that the company has an even more ambitious goal for 2024: To launch around 12 flights a month, for a total of 144 missions for the whole year. According to a company official who talked to Ars Technica, SpaceX intends to ramp up its mission numbers next year, mostly so that it could officially roll out its satellite-to-cell phone service. 

"With our 2 million users, (we) need that constellation refreshed," the spokesperson told Ars. "We're also going to look at direct to cell communications with Starlink, and that's a key feature that gets added next year with those 144 flights."

The company first announced the service, which will allow normal smartphones to connect with its satellites, back in 2022. It made the revelation alongside T-Mobile, which promised to make the capability accessible to its subscribers. T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert likened the technology to putting a cellular tower in the sky and said it could eliminate deadzones one day, allowing people to easily get in touch with loved ones even if they're in the middle of the ocean. SpaceX VP of Starlink enterprise sales Jonathan Hofeller also said earlier this year that the company is gearing up to start testing the service. 

As Ars notes, SpaceX previously said that the capability will require larger satellites that will launch onboard the company's Starship vehicle. The giant rocket is yet to be operational, though, and the company had to design an intermediate-sized Starlink satellite that can fly on its Falcon 9 rockets. That satellite is bigger than older models but smaller than the ones needed to enable voice and data services. SpaceX doesn't have plans to roll out Starlink voice and data until 2025, though, and will introduce its direct-to-cell capability with texting coverage only next year. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Starlink's satellite cell service is set to launch in 2024, but only for SMS

The launch of Starlink's much-anticipated satellite cellular service, Direct-to-Cell, will reportedly begin rolling out for SMS in 2024, according to a newly published promotional site by the company. Eventually the system will "enable ubiquitous access to texting, calling, and browsing wherever you may be on land, lakes, or coastal waters," and connect to IoT devices through the LTE standard.

Starlink has partnered with T-Mobile on the project, which was originally announced last August at the "Coverage and Above and Beyond" event. The collaboration sees T-Mobile setting aside a bit of its 5G spectrum for use by Starlink's second-generation satellites; Starlink in turn will allow T-Mobile phones to access the satellite network giving the cell service provider "near complete coverage" of the United States. 

During the event last August, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that "Starlink V2" would launch this year on select mobile phones, as well as in Tesla vehicles. “The important thing about this is that it means there are no dead zones anywhere in the world for your cell phone,” Musk said in a press statement at the time. “We’re incredibly excited to do this with T-Mobile.” That estimate was revised during a March panel discussion at the Satellite Conference and Exhibition 2023, when SpaceX VP of Starlink enterprise sales Jonathan Hofeller estimated testing — not commercial operation — would begin in 2023

The existing constellation of 4,265 satellites are not compatible with the new cell service so Starlink is going to have to launch a whole new series of microsats with the necessary eNodeB modem installed, over the next few years. As more satellites are launched, the adde voice and data features will become available. 

As an messaging-only satellite service, Direct-to-Cell will immediately find competition from Apple, with its Emergency SOS via Satellite feature in iOS 14, as well as Qualcomm's rival Snapdragon Satellite, which delivers texts to Android phones from orbit using the Iridium constellation. Competition is expected to be fierce in this emerging market, Lynk Global CEO Charles Miller noted during the March event, arguing that satellite cell service could potentially be the "biggest category in satellite."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Apple discontinues the iPhone 13 mini, its last small phone worth owning

The writing was on the wall for the iPhone mini series last year, when Apple went to a bigger Plus size of the iPhone 14 instead of the mini model it offered for the iPhone 12 and 13. But now, Apple has discontinued the iPhone 13 mini entirely, a tough blow for those of us who like smaller phones. 

First introduced in the fall of 2020, the iPhone 12 mini had the same specs as the bigger iPhone 12 but with a smaller battery and smaller 5.4-inch screen. People who love small phones rejoiced, as it's been increasingly difficult to buy a phone with a screen less than 6 inches — but analysts were quickly stating that iPhone 12 mini sales were not up to par. Apple still released an iPhone 13 mini in 2021, but last year decided that a bigger phone made more sense. 

The iPhone 13 mini stuck around for another year, but now has been stricken from the portfolio. The iPhone SE remains as a relatively compact device, but with a much smaller and lower-quality display than the mini offered. Maybe tastes will shift and we'll come back around to a time when a smaller phone is in demand, but my guess is it won't happen any time soon. 

Follow all of the news live from Apple's 'Wonderlust' event right here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Amazon Prime members can now get pre-approved for new Boost Infinite plans

Amazon has teamed up with Boost Infinite, a wireless carrier owned by Dish Wireless, and has launched a storefront to make the latter's SIM kits more accessible. While Amazon sells SIM cards from a variety of providers, this is a genuine tie-up that automatically pre-qualifies Prime members for the carrier's $25-per-month postpaid wireless plan. Subscribers can purchase Boost Infinite's Unlimited $25 SIM kit from the Amazon store with a 20 percent discount. And if they do, they're also getting a $25 bill credit that will go towards their first month of service, provided that they've activated their SIM within 30 days of receiving it. 

Dish first introduced Boost Infinite in mid-2022 with a plan that offers "unlimited data, talk and text." The plan also provides users with 5G internet, which uses AT&T's, T-Mobile's and Dish's own network, though it will get throttled after the first 30GB of the month. Subscribers can add up to five lines per account, as well. Boost Infinite promises a wireless service with no surprise, or even planned, price hikes. It says members can expect to pay $25 a month for as long as they're active. 

Customers who purchase a SIM kit from Amazon don't have to walk into a store to activate their account. They simply need to complete their registration via the carrier's app, after which it will pair them up with a customer support rep — a "real person," the company emphasizes — to help them with setup and activation. To note, new subscribers can bring in their (unlocked) phones or get a new one from Boost Infinite, and they can keep or change their number. Boost Infinite's network is compatible with both unlocked iPhones and Android devices, and it also comes with eSIM support for Apple's mobile phones. 

Steve Downer, Vice President of Consumer Electronics at Amazon, said:

"Amazon has always been about providing convenience, value, and selection to customers. Part of that is making it easier for customers to access wireless plans that are compatible with a variety of devices and can be set up from home. The Boost Infinite Unlimited SIM kit gives Prime members an exclusive deal to access affordable postpaid wireless service on one of the top networks in the U.S. at a great value."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at