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Qualcomm, Android phone makers developing satellite messaging feature

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Qualcomm sign is pictured at the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai, China June 28, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – Qualcomm (NASDAQ:) Inc on Monday said it was working with a group of Android smartphone companies to add satellite-based messaging capabilities to their devices.

The San Diego, California-based company, which is the world’s biggest supplier of chips that connect mobile phones to wireless data networks, said it is working with Honor, Lenovo-owned Motorola (NYSE:), Nothing, OPPO, Vivo and Xiaomi (OTC:) Corp to develop the devices.

Satellite-based communications can send and receive data in remote or rural regions where other telecommunications networks are not available. Qualcomm announced that it was adding the capabilities to its chips earlier this year.

Qualcomm’s work with Android device makers is likely to intensify competition between those brands and Apple Inc (NASDAQ:), which last year unveiled the ability to send emergency satellite messages as one of the flagship features of its newest iPhone lineup. Those new iPhones contain a chip from Qualcomm, though Apple told Reuters that they also contain custom hardware and software that are proprietary to Apple.

Qualcomm did not say when the new satellite messaging features from the Android smartphone brands named on Monday would become available. Earlier this year, Qualcomm said that some Android phones would have the features by the second half of this year.

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