Apple exploring satellite network to beam data directly to iPhones

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satellite
The iPhone maker seems serious to create a satellite network to beam data directly to devices like the iPhone and Apple Watch.
Photo: ESA

Apple is building a larger research group to investigate ways to transmit data directly to iPhones and other devices, Bloomberg reported Friday.

According to the report, Apple CEO Tim Cook has reportedly made the project a company priority.

Apple is said to be hiring software, hardware, and aerospace engineers to find new methods of data transfer for the iPhone and other products. The goal is to reduce the dependence on traditional wireless carriers.

Apple is said to be hoping for the initiative to produce results within five years.

Apple ramps up satellite development team

Bloomberg reports the team has recently added a wide spectrum of people from the wireless industry, including engineer Matt Ettus, an expert in software defined radio systems. Other names recently added to the team include Ashley Williams, a longtime ommunication satellites executive from Aerospace Corp., and Daniel Ellis, a former Netflix executive who helped oversee the company’s content delivery network.

The additions join an already experienced group hired in 2017. The lead of Google’s spacecraft operations, John Fenwick, joined Apple along with Michael Trela, who was the head of satellite engineering. Both Fenwick and Trela came to Google in 2014 when the company acquired their startup Skybox Imaging.

Apple plans unclear

What remains unclear is whether Apple plans to develop its own satellite network or use a on-the-ground-based system that would take data from existing satellites and send it to mobile devices.

The advantages of satellite communication could be extensive. The technology could create, among other things, more accurate tracking of devices to improve mapping.