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June 13, 2024

Jio Platforms and SES Joint Venture Gains Approval to Operate Satellites in India

A joint venture between Reliance Industries’ Jio Platforms and Luxembourg-based SES has received crucial approvals from the Indian space regulator to operate satellites, marking a significant step forward in providing high-speed satellite-based internet services in India.

The joint venture, known as Orbit Connect India, aims to deliver gigabit fiber internet access via satellite. The approvals, which were issued by the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) in April and June, allow Orbit Connect to operate satellites over India. However, further permissions from the Department of Telecommunications are required before the venture can commence operations.

These recent developments highlight India’s growing interest and investment in satellite broadband services. Major global players such as Amazon.com and Elon Musk’s Starlink have been eagerly seeking entry into this rapidly expanding market, reflecting the immense potential and competitive landscape of satellite internet services in the world’s most populous nation.

Inmarsat, another key player in the satellite-based internet sector, has also secured authorization to operate satellites over India. Additionally, applications from Starlink and Amazon’s Kuiper are under consideration. Eutelsat’s Bharti Enterprises-backed OneWeb successfully obtained all necessary approvals late last year, setting a precedent for other companies in the industry.

The satellite broadband service market in India is projected to grow at an impressive rate of 36% annually over the next five years, potentially reaching $1.9 billion by 2030, according to Deloitte. This growth is driven by the increasing demand for high-speed internet access, particularly in rural and underserved areas.

Globally, the race to provide space-based internet is intensifying. Amazon’s Kuiper project, which aims to invest $10 billion, was announced in 2019, the same year SpaceX started deploying its first operational Starlink satellites. Recently, Starlink also received preliminary approval to offer internet services in Sri Lanka.

IN-SPACe chairman Pawan Goenka emphasized the benefits of increased competition in the Indian satellite internet sector. He noted that the presence of more companies would lead to better outcomes for consumers. “Comparatively low pricing of communication services in India will compel global players to drive innovation to reduce their pricing,” Goenka said. He drew parallels to the automotive industry, where multinational companies had to innovate to meet the Indian market’s demand for high performance at low costs.

Goenka also revealed that IN-SPACe would soon authorize private companies to operate ground stations in India, allowing satellite operators to download data as their satellites pass over the country. This move is expected to further enhance the capabilities and efficiency of satellite internet services in India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which recently secured a rare third term, has been actively promoting the development of India’s space industry. This year, the government opened the sector to foreign direct investment, allowing foreign companies to invest up to 100% in the manufacture of satellite components and systems without requiring prior approval. This policy shift has significantly boosted investor interest, with investments in private space companies jumping from $2 million-$7 million last year to projections of $20 million-$30 million this year.

“The proof of concept has happened,” Goenka remarked, underscoring the growing confidence and momentum in India’s space sector.

With these recent approvals, Jio Platforms and SES’s Orbit Connect India are well-positioned to play a pivotal role in transforming India’s internet landscape, bringing high-speed connectivity to millions and fostering innovation and competition in the satellite internet industry.

Read more Business related news on R9 News
Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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