Date : July 17, 2019
A recent publication from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) of a patent application has revealed that Google, the US technology giant may launch a smartphone with the additional narrowband satellite connectivity option. If this turns out to be true, it will make the already much-desired android smartphones even more desirable over its rivals.
WHAT IS A NARROWBAND SATELLITE COMMUNICATION
The narrowband satellite communication uses one or more orbital satellites for enabling communication between users. This is different from the traditional method of communication that uses cell towers to enable users to connect with each other wirelessly. This form of communication will allow the users to have an additional option through which they can communicate. The smart device will effectively choose between the 5G connection available and the narrowband satellite connection as per the quality of each connection available at a certain point of time.
For Example: If a smartphone user tries to make a phone call in the middle of New York, with 5G connectivity available to him, the smartphone will make use of the available 5G connection for making that call. But if the user is travelling in the suburbs, where his 5G connection does not have the service required to make a call, the smartphone will switch to the narrowband satellite communication system and make the using the orbital satellites available in that region.
GOOGLE’S FUTURE PLANS
It is still not certain what exactly Google will do with this patent. In its patent application, it has marked out the various situation where the use of this narrow band satellite system will be productive. It has given the example of a driver who is stranded on the roadside with no cellular coverage will not be able to call for roadside assistance, a hiker who may not be able to avail the cellular services in the remote areas to contact emergency services.
Another example that Google gave, and which according to me is the most important one, is the use of this technology in the time of a natural disaster. Natural disasters are known for disrupting cellular connectivity even in the middle of a metropolitan city. Google has placed this technology to be used in such a situation.
Using the new, satellite-based connectivity option will not come cheap for the users. They will have to pay a premium on what they are already paying for making use of this technology. The users can expect an increase in charges with this technology. But given the situation in which this technology is stated to be used, for eg., in a remote area, during a disaster, it may hurt the users that much to pay the extra few bucks for availing this service.
On the other hand, Google may launch this service as an elite form of communication service for law enforcement agencies, industry players, lawyers and all others who might need an affordable satellite smartphone.
It needs to be seen what Google comes up with using this technology. It is well to mention that Apple already has a patent in the domain of satellite phone which it had acquired from Nortel in 2013, but didn’t really make any use thereof. But given the history of Google, it is much more aggressive when it comes to new forms of communication, so we just might see a possible satellite-based Android smartphone in the future.
Author: Varun Sharma, LL.B., 3rd Year, Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi ,Intern at Khurana & Khurana, Mumbai. , Intern at IP and Legal Filings and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.