My knowledge and experience with the architecture of these systems is pretty darn low. I know that most PLBs use the Iridium sat system and that's a separate system from GPS which uses the NAVSTAR system.

But the Iridium system is designed to handle both voice and traffic (hence the Iridium line of sat phones) so if I were to guess, I could see the smartphone companies trying to partner with Iridium. But it would probably depend on whether Iridium sees a partnership as good for its own business or if it sees it as a way for a competitor to sneak in the back door and grab proprietary data. Personally, I would think Iridium should welcome such a partnership because they will never enjoy the same market share as Apple and Google.

However, let's say that such a partnership happens. That still only gets us halfway - our smartphones become highly accurate sat receivers. The smartphone companies still need to figure out how to scale down the transmitter technology so that they can send data to the satellite while still keeping the physical size small.

I still say it will happen but that's not a small hurdle to figure out.

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

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