OneWeb India gets green light to launch satellite broadband services

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OneWeb India gets green light to launch satellite broadband services
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OneWeb India, a subsidiary of Eutelsat OneWeb, has been authorized by the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) to deploy satellite broadband services in India. This development positions OneWeb India ahead of competitors such as SpaceX's Starlink and Reliance's JioSpaceFiber, pending spectrum allocation by the Indian government.

The authorization for a five-year term was announced today, with Bharti Group's OneWeb India requiring spectrum assignment by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). Sunil Bharti Mittal, vice-chairman of Bharti Group, highlighted this milestone as a significant step towards achieving the Digital India vision. He noted that the service will provide persistent internet coverage to rural and remote maritime areas in India.

Eutelsat OneWeb is prepared to offer its services following the completion of their Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation last year. Cyril Dujardin from Eutelsat Group confirmed the readiness of the company to begin operations. The constellation comprises 648 satellites designed to supply approximately 21 Gbps throughput over India, which could revolutionize connectivity across the nation.

OneWeb has already obtained permits from DoT for satellite communication and internet service provision and is now awaiting only spectrum allocation for direct customer broadcasts. The company has also received in-principle approvals for two gateways in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, which are expected to ensure robust connectivity throughout India.

The DoT is currently seeking advice from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on procedures for spectrum allocation. However, this process has been stalled due to the absence of a chairperson since October 1, following P D Vaghela's departure in September. Although Trai's recommendations are ready, they await the appointment of a new regulatory head before they can be released.

Bharti Airtel, part of Bharti Group, plans to reduce data costs through satellite internet services. At JPMorgan’s summit last month, it was suggested that satellite technology could complement terrestrial networks, enhancing connectivity options for consumers. After their $3.4 billion merger last year, Eutelsat OneWeb is on track to achieve global coverage by January 24th and is now just steps away from commencing operations in India.

The move comes at a time when competition in the Indian satellite service sector is intensifying. Reliance has introduced its affordable satellite service while Starlink is yet to obtain an operating license in India. Meanwhile, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ) continues to advance Project Kuiper by hiring locally.

Analysts at Macquarie have pointed out China’s increasing space activity as a point of interest in the global space race. In response to these developments, IN-SPACe regulates space affairs in India, with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) handling commercialization efforts within the sector.

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