OneWeb has received a letter of intent (LoI )from theDepartment of Telecommunications (DoT) so that it can provide global mobile personal communication by satellite.
It had applied for the licence in June and it is valid for 20 years.
This makes Bharti Group the only company in India to have presence in both satellite and terrestrial communication services.
OneWeb is a satcom company co-owned by Bharti group (BG) and the UK government.
In 2020, BG along with the UK govt won an auction and acquired OneWeb which was in a financially precarious state due to funding pulled by its biggest investor SoftBank.
Both partners pledged to commit $1 billion in order to acquire OneWeb and to finance the restarting of operations.
It is looking to start offering satellite broadband services in India and worldwide by May 2022.
It will achieve this with the help of a constellation of 648 low-earth orbit satellites.
A specialty of OneWeb is that it has a “significantly lower entry cost of any LEO”, making it a “three-times lower cost Constellation”, as per Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb.
OneWeb stated, “DoT has issued LoI for global mobile personal communication by satellite (GMPCS) licence to OneWeb.”
Bharti Group’s Advantage Over Others
With the GMPCS licence, Bharti Group will have an advantage in connecting its mobile towers through satellite services.
The company said that it has to “submit all compliances, fees, etc, after which a licence will be issued to the company.”
The whole process could take a month to complete.
Business Model And Initial Beneficiaries
Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Mittal said that they would operate on a B2B model in India.
Through this model, it will offer satellite bandwidth to telcos in remote regions.
The services would be available for use by the armed forces camped in the Himalayas.
Bandwidth capacity will also be offered to shipping agencies, the railways, and the forest department.
Ground Stations Work
OneWeb has already earmarked sites, one in northern and southern India each, where it will build two satellite in-country ground stations.
Work on these ground stations will commence upon receiving satellite bandwidth landing rights from the Department of Space (DoS).
The satellite internet space has big players all vying for a piece of the pie that is the Indian satellite services market.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX-developed Starlink seeks to provide high speed and low latency internet via satellites deployed on Falcon rockets.
It will also partner with Indian companies in order to locally manufacture satellite communications equipment, such as antenna systems and user terminal devices.
Tata Group is entering the satellite internet race in India in partnership with Telesat.
Telesat is a Canadian satellite communications services provider.
The partnership has come about through Tata Group-entity Nelco which partnered with Telesat in September 2020.
Through this, it aims to offer enterprise broadband services based on Telesat’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.
The partnership has started providing satellite communication services in a limited capacity.