Elon Musk dropped the ball. But Jeff Bezos seems to have picked it up. Or so it all seems now. A few months ago, Musk-run SpaceX withdrew its Internet project Starlink in India. Now, the Bezos-led company seems eager to bring its own ambitious ‘Project Kuiper’ broadband to India.
While Amazon has not made such plans official, the fact that it has advertised a range of India-based manager positions for the project provides scope for such a reading. The vacancies on the Amazon site were first noticed and reported by TechCrunch. Some of the entries on the page appear to have been removed after the news was published.
But it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Amazon doubles its investment in India, given that the country is the world’s second largest internet market.
Amazon will have many rivals in India
Amazon’s Kuiper project, announced in 2019, aims to bring high-speed satellite broadband to communities and regions that are too remote and underdeveloped for fiber broadband providers. This is of course also the stated plan of project Starlink. But the latter came loose in India after the company violated Indian telecom laws. The Ministry of Telecom picked it up for illegally accepting pre-orders. The ministry warned users not to pre-order Starlink’s satellite internet service, stating that the company has illegally accepted such orders. After that, things fell apart for Starlink as it began to leave the project and begin to unburden its hired staff.
Amazon has received the green signal from US authorities to set up an Internet-from-space satellite fleet capable of being 3,200 satellites strong. In April, it obtained launch rights for up to 83 launches. Amazon has signed a deal with launch providers Arianespace, United Launch Alliance and Bezos’ own company Blue Origin. Amazon is pumping billions of dollars into the project, and it would make sense for it to come to India, as the Internet services market is always growing here. Despite the fact that data speeds in India are among the lowest in the world, only 43% of the Indian population is said to have access to the internet.
While the Musk company may be out of the running, Amazon will find big rivals to take on in India. For the record, Indian players like Bharti-Airtel, owned by OneWeb and Tata Group, owned by Nelco, are also eager to make headway in the sector. Furthermore, Jio Platforms and Luxembourg-based SES have also announced a joint venture to provide high-quality satellite-based broadband services across India.