Qualcomm connects Samsung handsets with Chinese satellites

Mobile phone supply-chain goes truly global, as a US semiconductor company provides components for Korean handsets to use Chinese global positioning satellites.

Qualcomm Technologies is now working with Samsung as it launches a new set of BeiDou-enhanced smartphones to increase the number of global positioning satellites available for location-based services.

BeiDou is a navigation system used in China, consisting of several satellites that were set into orbit beginning in 2000. The second generation of the system is not yet fully completed, but at least 16 of the 35 satellites for it have been launched.

Smartphones currently rely on other satellite constellations to provide location-based services, which Qualcomm says has proven to be problematic as low line-of-sight visibility to current positioning satellites can be blocked by tall buildings or in canyon areas.

"Bringing BeiDou-enabled phones to China means the Galaxy Note 3 has access to more satellites, which increases location accuracy. This ultimately improves customers' pedestrian navigation, speeds local searches and enhances other location-based services," Qualcomm said in a statement.

GPS receivers such as the ones that Qualcomm uses on its platform, only receive location information from satellites. They do not transmit data back.