In a word: Apple’s satellite-based Emergency SOS service is set to launch later this month in the United States and Canada. Once online, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models will be able to connect directly to satellites orbiting the Earth to communicate with emergency services outside of cellular or Wi-Fi coverage.
Apple has revealed an initial investment of $450 million to get its emergency SOS feature via satellite operational later this month.
The money will come from Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund, which was launched with an initial pool of $1 billion to help boost manufacturing jobs in the United States. Gorilla Glass maker Corning was among the first recipients, receiving a $200 million investment in mid-2017 to help with research and development, capital equipment needs and glass processing.
Apple said most of the funding will go to Globalstar, its lead partner on the project. The money will be used to provide essential upgrades to the company’s network of satellites and ground stations. Cupertino said more than 300 Globalstar employees are currently working on the business.
Satellite Emergency SOS was announced as a standout feature when the iPhone 14 was introduced in September. It will use spectrum in the L and S bands which is specifically designated for mobile satellite services by the ITU Radio Regulations.
When an iPhone user makes an emergency SOS request via satellite, it is transmitted to one of 24 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites before being routed to one of the many ground stations in the world equipped with high power antennas designed and manufactured for Apple by Cobham Satcom. Once received, the message will then be forwarded to the appropriate emergency service or to a relay center if local services cannot receive SMS.
Globalstar has installed multiple antennas at each of its existing ground stations, including its most recent installations in Hawaii and Nevada. The feature can also be used to manually share your location with Find My to provide a sense of security while hiking or camping off the grid.