OneWeb expects clearance to launch India services by July

oneweb india
Image by Postmodern Studio | Bigstockphoto

OneWeb executive chairman Sunil Mittal said the company is expected to get all statutory approvals, including landing rights and market access clearances, in time to launch satellite-based broadband services in India by July.

With the July launch, Bharti Group-backed OneWeb will become the first satellite company to launch satcom services in the country. It is competing with Elon Musk-owned satellite company Starlink, Reliance Jio, Nelco (a Tata group satcom company), and Amazon’s Project Kuiper in India and globally.

OneWeb, which is also owned by the UK government, Eutelsat, SoftBank, Hughes Networks, and Hanwha Systems, is looking to emerge as the strong satcom company with a first mover advantage.

The company is working on quickly building its satellite ground stations in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. It has given contracts to Indus Towers (in which Bharti Airtel is the largest stakeholder) and Nxtra Data Ltd, a Bharti Airtel arm to build these landing stations.

Still arguing about spectrum

Mittal, who is also the chairman of Bharti Group, reiterated that spectrum for satellite-based broadband services should not be auctioned, but rather allotted administratively, in line with the global norm.

Mittal urged the Telecom Regulatory Authoruty of India (TRAI) to back the administered allocation of satellite spectrum to make the satellite broadband business viable and affordable.

“Globally, there is no spectrum auction for satellite (services). It’s a shared resource and nobody can get it dedicated,” he told reporters in India. “TRAI must come with a policy that fully capitalizes on the (satellite) projects (being implemented) for the benefit of India’s remotest parts and (delivery of) emergency services.”

Mittal expects India’s much-awaited spacecom policy to be notified soon. The policy will allow OneWeb’s UK-based holding company to bring in foreign direct investment (FDI) and take a stake in the Indian satellite company, OneWeb India Communications, according to a report by the Economic Times.

Mittal revealed that OneWeb’s UK holding company has already put in an FDI application to the Indian government.

OneWeb will be “affordable”

EY estimates India’s space economy to grow to about $13 billion by 2025. The annual satellite broadband revenue opportunity is now around $1 billion, according to industry estimates. 

On Sunday, OneWeb successfully launched 36 LEO satellites with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-SHAR) in Sriharikota, India, bringing OneWeb’s constellation to 618 satellites. The OneWeb constellation design calls for 588 satellites for global coverage – additional satellites are planned for resiliency and redundancy.

OneWeb is expecting to generate around $1 billion of revenue once it activates around 80% of its global satellite capacity, Mittal added.

OneWeb’s India subsidiary OneWeb India Communications is currently 100% owned by Bharti Airtel and holds a GMPCS (global mobile personal communications by satellite services) licence given by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), which is required to roll out satellite internet services in India.

Reliance Jio has also received a GMPCS licence, while Starlink and Nelco have applied for one.

Once activated, Mittal said, OneWeb’s coverage solutions will bring secure connectivity to enterprises, towns, villages, municipalities and schools, including the most remote areas across the country.

“OneWeb’s satcom services will be affordable and at par with that of mobile rates only if a community of 30-40 homes in a village use it.”

Related article: TRAI stuck on how to make satellite spectrum auction work

Be the first to comment

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.