Jio, backed by Reliance, did what Elon Musk’s Starlink could not and became the second company to obtain the necessary approvals to offer satellite broadband services in India.
Jio Satellite Communications, a joint venture between Reliance Industries and SES Luxembourg, applied for the necessary licenses earlier this year to broadcast broadband from space. The telecommunications department has issued a letter of intent to Jio Satellite Communications ltd. for Global Mobile Satellite Personal Communications (GMPCS).
Aside from Jio, OneWeb, backed by the Bharti Group, is the other company to receive DoT approval. However, the launch of OneWeb services was delayed until August of the next year due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
In addition to these two, Tata-backed Nelco, Canadian company Telesat and Amazon are also gearing up to offer satellite internet services. Previously, Starlink was asked by the DoT to stop taking orders for its high-speed internet services in India as it did not have licenses to do so. After that, SpaceX canceled the plan to launch Starlink in India.
What services can Jio Satellite Communications offer?
The GMPCS license allows Jio to configure a mobile satellite network to offer voice and internet services using satellites in space. This license is for a period of 20 years for mobile satellite networks and can operate with low earth orbit (LEO), medium earth orbit (MEO) and geosynchronous (GEO) satellites.
However, Jio will use multi-orbit space networks that combine geostationary (GEO) and medium earth orbit (MEO) satellite constellations.
Untapped business opportunity
Satellite-based broadband connectivity is in its early stages, even in international markets. Several companies, including Google and Facebook, have failed in their attempts, with Starlink being the only company currently offering its services.
However, this segment remains untouched in India, and experts say satellite internet is expected to grow to $4.7 billion by 2025. This is mainly because most of rural India lacks access to high-speed internet connectivity. .
As satellite-based broadband does not require any physical wiring or infrastructure installation, it is not only easy to provide connectivity to distant locations in a country like India, it will also be cheaper.