Jio to introduce satellite broadband services in India


Buoyed by confidence, Jio has done what Elon Musk’s Starlink could not do and becomes the second company to receive the required approvals to provide satellite broadband services in India.

Jio Satellite Communications, a joint venture between Reliance Industries and Luxembourg SES, had applied for the necessary permits earlier this year to beam broadband from space. The Telecom Department has issued a letter of intent to Jio Satellite Communications ltd. for global mobile personal communications by satellite (GMPCS).

Besides Jio, Bharti Group-backed OneWeb is the other company to get DoT’s nod. However, the rollout of OneWeb’s services has reportedly been delayed until August next year due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

Apart from these two, Tata-backed Nelco, Canadian company Telesat and Amazon are also preparing to offer satellite-based internet services. Previously, Starlink was asked by the DoT to stop taking pro-order for its high-speed internet services in India as it lacked the licenses to do so. After this, SpaceX reportedly canceled its plan to launch Starlink in India.

What services can Jio Satellite Communications offer?

The GMPCS license allows Jio to establish a mobile satellite network to provide voice and internet services using satellites in space. This license is valid for a period of 20 years for mobile satellite networks and can operate with low Earth orbit (LEO), medium 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 infancy even in international markets. Multiple companies, including Google and Facebook, have failed in their efforts, with Starlink being the only company currently offering its services.

However, this segment is 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 connections.

Since satellite-based broadband requires no physical wiring or infrastructure installation, it will not only be easy to provide connectivity to distant locations in a country like India, and it will also prove to be cheaper.