Apple lends Globalstar $252 million for satellite-enabled iPhones

Apple is lending Globalstar $252 million dollars to help with upfront costs for replenishing it’s low earth orbit (LEO) constellation with 17 to 26 new satellites. In part, this is a prepayment for the ability to offer emergency cell service via connection with one of the existing 24 satellites for the latest iPhones: iPhone14 and iPhone 14 Pro.

Once online, Globalstar is allocating 85% of the capacity of it’s next-generation constellation to Apple. While Apple has not stated how they intend to use Globalstar’s new satellites to improve satellite-enabled features, one possible intent is asymmetric data service for difficult to cover geographical areas representing high value markets (e.g. Australia) as this would allow Apple to avoid the expense of upgrading mobile infrastructure and to lock in customers to their iPhone 14/Pro in the identified areas.

Use of the LEO constellation to augment downstream coverage for the iPhone 14/Pro would create surface area for cyber attacks parallel to the attack vectors associated with mobile infrastructure (e.g. cell towers). Given the value proposition of privacy and security from Apple, they as a customer of space-based infrastructure may drive the industry toward more meaningful protections against cyber attack in individual satellites and constellation which have traditionally been used for legacy services such as connectivity for IoT devices.

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