No, the iPhone 13 will not talk to satellites: Everything you need to know

1/ No, the iPhone 13 will not talk to satellites. Instead, the iPhone will (according to rumors) now support another radio band for 4G/5G that was previously assigned to satellite service but which now can be used for terrestrial service.
5/ GlobalStar spen5 $5 billion putting up its first satellites (and buying spectrum) then promptly went bankrupt (like their competitor Iridium). But spectrum licenses are valuable, so no investors grabbed their assets.
6/ Their strategy: take this 11.5-MHz wide band that’s been licensed for satellite services and seek permission to use it for terrestrial services. They’ve so far convinced the US, Canada, Brazil, and Kenya, and applications are still pending in Europe.
7/ The obvious problem is that if there is a nearby TERRESTRIAL (on land) transmitter, it’ll overwhelm the signal from SATELLITE (in space) transmitters. The way around this is to have the terrestrial devices support the same services.
8/ In other words, if a terrestrial transmitter is nearby, your SPOT watch will talk to it instead of a satellite. Only as you walk away will the watch switch to the satellite. I have questions whether this will actually work. So do many others.
9/ Part of the compromise is that these terrestrial transmitters will only work at really low power, meaning, often only within buildings. Also, 11.5-MHz is pretty narrow. And the entire service must fit within the band (instead of normal LTE which uses multiple bands).
10/ But apparently that is ok, because of the LAA (“Licensed Assisted Spectrum”) trick. What you do is used the licensed spectrum, which is guaranteed free of interference, for critical stuff, and then normal WiFi spectrum for non-critical data.
11/ Presumably, then, you buy WiFi access-points that work as they currently do but then also work as a microcell for this LTE radio service. You get the best of both worlds: reliable phone calls, and high-bandwidth downloads.
15/ An important part of this discussion is the difference between LICENSED vs. UNLICENSED bands. Everything from 2.4 GHz to 2.4835 GHz is UNLICENSED, useable by almost anyone for anything. But 2.835 to 2.5 GHz is licensed only for GlobalStar’s use.
17/ In other words, if some device causes interference in licensed spectrum, you can complain, and the FCC will shut them down. They have vans in every major city dedicated to finding violators and stopping them.
18/ But in the unlicensed area, the rules change. It’s up to you to deal with interference. If your neighbor’s devices are interfering with your WiFi, well, it’s your problem (generally), not your neighbors.
19/ There are still rules — it’s just that they are very relaxed for the unlicensed parts of the spectrum. Moreover, the key difference is that spectrum doesn’t belong to anybody in particular.
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