Satellite operator Iridium is the latest company to announce plans for a satellite-to-cellphone service. Importantly, the service – to be known as Project Stardust – won’t provide voice or high-speed connectivity, but instead will support 5G messaging and emergency (SOS) communications using a version of the narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) standard that it specifically for non-terrestrial networks (NTNs).

The offering is expected to begin testing next year and to launch in 2026.

Iridium is marketing the offering as an IoT and direct-to-device (D2D) service. It will not replace the company’s proprietary D2D offering but instead with co-exist with that offering.

Devices supported will include cars, tablets, and related consumer applications. The offering will be deployed on Iridium’s existing low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite network.

“The early stages of programming Iridium’s . . . LEO satellites offer a special opportunity to smartphone companies, OEMs, chipmakers, mobile network operators (MNOs) and related IoT developers to have their requirements woven into the fabric of Iridium’s network,” the company said in announcing the offering.

According to Iridium, the Project Stardust offering will be the only “truly global standards based IoT and D2D service.” The company says its network covers the entire planet.

Other satellite operators planning D2D services include AST SpaceMobile, which will work with AT&T and international providers, and SpaceX, which will work with T-Mobile and others on its offering.

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