Apple Hires Two Satellite Experts From Google

Elizabeth Williams
April 22, 2017

John Fenwick led Google's spacecraft operations in the past, while Michael Trela was the head of Google's satellite engineering. But, recent developments suggest that Apple is looking for satellite-based internet.

Technology giant Apple is working on sending low-orbit satellites to beam broadband internet, Bloomberg has reported. These former Google executives will report to Greg Duffy, co-founder of camera maker Dropcam.

According to a CNET report, Apple hired two of Google's top satellite executives to create a new hardware team.

The report also states that Apple might be putting its satellite experts to work on something else closely related - such as drones or near space technology like high bandwidth radio transceivers or high-altitude balloons. Bloomberg notes a regulatory filing previous year where Boeing outlined a plan to provide broadband access through over 1,000 satellites in low-earth orbit, and according to a person familiar with the situation, the aerospace company has allegedly spoken with Apple about being involved in that project, but it's unclear if that's directly related to this new special project, or even if those talks will result in any kind of a deal. It's unclear if those talks will result in a deal.

Tim Farrar, a satellite and telecom consultant, recently wrote, "It's not hard to discern why Apple might want to consider a satellite constellation". A Boeing spokesman declined to comment.

Of course, Apple is working on lots of stuff, and Duffy's background is in consumer products, such as the web-connected security camera Dropcam. Google also planned to invest about $1 billion in an internal satellite internet initiative run by industry veteran Greg Wyler, however Wyler left to start satellite communications firm OneWeb Ltd., and Google ended up investing $1 billion in SpaceX. An unnamed source shared that Boeing has plans to roll out a satellite broadband network and Apple has been it talks with the company about possible involvement. Former Boeing executive James Bell also joined Apple's board of directors back in October of 2015, another potential link between Apple and Boeing. Prior to entering the startup world, Fenwick served in the US Air Force and Trela was a spacecraft engineer at John Hopkins University.

Other reports by VgToday

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