Apple Enters the Satellite Technology Arena with Secret Project Plans

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In a move that could ultimately cut all ties with wireless carriers, Apple is reportedly working on satellite and related wireless technologies designed to beam data directly to Apple devices and, in theory, provide more exact location tracking that would allow enhanced device features. Bloomberg News cited sources familiar with the project saying that Apple CEO Tim Cook considers this a high priority and has already assembled a “top secret” team of network designers and engineers.

 According to Bloomberg’s reporting, the team is led by former aerospace engineers, Michael Trela and John Fenwick, who joined Apple in 2017 to spearhead the satellite initiative.

 The duo previously led Google’s satellite and spacecraft operations prior to their departure in 2017.

A notable recent addition to the project roster is Matt Ettus, prominently known in the wireless industry. Ettus created Ettus Research, a National Instruments brand and leading supplier of software defined radio platforms, including the Universal Software Radio Peripheral family of products. 

 Bloomberg’s sources, who requested anonymity discussing Apple’s internal initiatives, stated the project is still in the early developmental stages and may be scrapped depending on feasibility and use of satellites. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.  Bloomberg reported Apple’s goal is to deploy project results within five years.

 While it’s unclear if Apple intends to throw its hat into the development of satellite constellations with the likes of Amazon and SpaceX, the potential effect on traditional wireless networks is cause for concern, according to Wells Fargo’s Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche. “This could have a meaningful impact on our sector as Apple could essentially bypass carriers and towers which service them,” she said.

January 8, 2020   

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