Sunil Bharti Mittal said that OneWeb’s constellation of satellites was ready and that users from remote parts of the country would be able to benefit from these services
Last year, OneWeb launched 72 satellites aboard the ISRO’s geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle, Mark-III
As of now, OneWeb claims to have formulated a constellation of more than 618 low earth orbit satellites that would offer internet services across the country
Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal on Friday (October 27) said that the telco’s satcom venture OneWeb will be ready to offer services across the country from next month.
Addressing the inaugural session of India Mobile Congress 2023, Mittal said that OneWeb’s constellation of satellites was ready and that users from remote parts of the country would be able to benefit from these services.
“OneWeb constellation is ready to serve the globe and is ready to serve the country. Anybody, anywhere in the country, in remote parts or in difficult areas, wherever they are located can be connected from next month from the satellite ground station that has been set up in Gujarat’s Mehsana,” Mittal said.
Touting the ‘new technology’, Airtel chairman said that satellite communications would serve ‘every inch’ of the country and the globe. He added that OneWeb was able to launch 72 satellites last year, with the help of ISRO’s GSLV (geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle) Mark-III.
Speaking on the 5G rollout, Mittal said that Airtel currently covers 5,000 towns and cities as well as 20,000 villages across the country. He also promised a pan-India rollout of the next-generation internet services by March 2024.
The announcement comes a month after OneWeb merged with Eutelsat and rebranded itself as Eutelsat OneWeb. With operations based out of London, Eutelsat OneWeb counts Bharti Enterprises as its largest shareholder and has a 21.2% stake in the combined firm.
As of now, OneWeb claims to have formulated a constellation of more than 618 low earth orbit satellites that would offer internet services across the country.
Mittal’s comment came on the same day as competitor Reliance Jio Infocomm announced its satellite-based giga-fibre service JioSpaceFiber. Just like OneWeb, Reliance’s new offering aims to offer fast and reliable internet connectivity to remote regions at affordable rates.
Meanwhile, the competition in the satcom space appears to be heating up as a host of global and domestic giants have lined up to get a licence to offer the service. The contenders include Reliance Industries, Bharti Global, Elon Musk-backed Starlink, and Amazon’s Kuiper.
So far, only two companies in the country have satcom licences – Bharti Group-backed OneWeb and Jio Satellite Communications, which Reliance operates in a joint venture with Luxembourg-based SES. However, Amazon is also looking to catch up as reports surfaced, earlier this month, that the ecommerce major was seeking approval from the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe).
The fight between some of the richest men in India and globally points to the opportunity that the nascent satcom space offers. The government itself believes that satcom will play a key role in delivering internet services to 1.2 Bn Indians by 2025-26.
As per a report, the global satellite communications market is projected to grow to a market size of $192 Bn by 2032.