Lookout Verizon, AT&T, and any other carrier out there: Apple is working on a way to bypass carriers and beam internet and other data directly to iPhones. That’s according to a report from Bloomberg that says the initiative is “a company priority” for Tim Cook.
According to the report, Apple has “a secret team” of engineers specializing in aerospace, satellites, and antenna design working on the project:
Apple’s work on communications satellites and next-generation wireless technology means the aim is likely to beam data to a user’s device, potentially mitigating the dependence on wireless carriers, or for linking devices together without a traditional network. Apple could also be exploring satellites for more precise location tracking for its devices, enabling improved maps and new features.
Bloomberg’s report says Apple hopes to deploy the satellites within the next five years. If Apple does indeed use its own constellation of satellites to beam internet access to iPhones (and presumably other devices), it could have major consequences for traditional carriers, whose main business model relies on the subscription fees smartphone data plans bring in.
Apple becoming its own space-based ISP isn’t that far out of an idea. The company has increasingly made moves to design and control every aspect of its products. This started years ago with Apple making its own custom A-series silicon for its iPhones and iPads instead of relying on off-the-shelve CPUs. More recently, Apple is said to be working on its own 5G modem to replace the Qualcomm and Intel modems it has used in years past.
By creating its own data delivery system, Apple could give its customers a more uniform experience across its devices, as well as create another recurring, subscription-based revenue source.