India’s richest billionaires are fast catching up while Elon Musk struggles for satellite broadband licence
- Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio has formed a joint venture with Luxembourg based SES.
- Sunil Mittal-owned Airtel has entered into a JV with Hughes Communications.
- The Tata Group is reportedly in talks with Telesat’s Lightspeed brand.
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In the meantime, India’s biggest billionaires like
Reliance Jio, owned by Ambani, has formed a joint venture (JV) with SES, a satellite-based content and connectivity solutions provider from Luxembourg. In January this year, Airtel had announced a JV with Hughes Communications to offer satellite-based broadband services in the country.
Nelco, an arm of the multi-billion dollar Tata Group, is also reportedly in talks with Canadian firm Telesat’s Lightspeed brand to offer satellite broadband services in the country by 2024.
Another player that is looking to enter the satellite-based broadband services market in India is Amazon as part of Project Kruiper satellite constellation.
What is satellite broadband?
Satellite broadband uses satellites orbiting the earth to provide internet services to people using a dish. Unlike traditional broadband services, satellite broadband does not require users to get a wired connection from the operators.
This becomes useful especially in those areas that do not have broadband infrastructure such as rural areas. Satellite broadband also helps in tracking vehicles, generating alerts for natural disasters, and in remotely managing power grids to name a few use cases.
Satellite broadband services are already available in countries like the US and UK. Elon Musk’s Starlink is currently testing its services in 25 countries, including the US, UK, Canada and France among others.
In addition to Starlink, the UK also has other players such as OneWeb, which is partially owned by Airtel.
AdvertisementIn November 2021, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had issued a consultation paper on establishing a licensing framework for satellite gateways which are required to offer broadband services using satellites. The paper had sought suggestions on license fee, entry fee, bank guarantees and other information such as operational charges.
Jio Satellite Communications, Jio’s satellite unit had applied for a global mobile personal communication by satellite services (GMPCS) license to offer satellite-based broadband services in India earlier this month. Airtel’s OneWeb, had also applied for a GMPCS license in 2021.
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