Elon Musk’s Satellite Internet Arrives In India: Company Registered, Battle With Reliance, Airtel Starts
Elon Musk’s satellite internet service Starlink registered its business in India on Nov 1.
Starlink is the satellite internet division and wholly-owned subsidiary of Musk’s rocket company SpaceX.
It aims to provide low-latency broadband internet services globally by launching small satellites as part of a low-Earth orbiting network.
The local unit has been named Starlink Satellite Communications Private Limited or SSCPL.
Through this unit, it will be able to “start applying for licenses, open bank accounts etc”, says Sanjay Bhargava, Starlink country director India.
The licenses need to be procured from the government in order to provide broadband and other satellite-based communication services.
The move confirms the company’s plans on making its services available in India.
It claims to have already received over 5,000 pre-orders from here.
The competition in the Indian market is intense, with big players such as Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea in broadband space.
Outside India, it also has to watch out for Amazon’s Project Kuiper.
However, in the satellite internet space it faces its direct rival, Bharti Group-backed OneWeb.
Co-owned by the UK government, OneWeb is targeting having over 600 satellites by 2022 to offer its services worldwide.
It intends to arrive in India by mid-2022.
The Starlink service costs a deposit of $99 or Rs 7,350 which would provide the customer a satellite dish and a router.
It promises to deliver data speeds in the range of 50 to 150 Mbps in the beta stage.
For perspective, the average internet speed is anywhere from 10-40 Mbps depending on the location.
Its initial focus will be in rural areas which it seeks to penetrate with 2 lakh active terminals should the government give its approval.
It wishes to contribute to rural development by means of 80% of the 200,000 Starlink devices it plans to launch in India by December 2022.
By then, it would cover over 160,000 districts.
Upon receiving government permission, it will give away 100 hardware kits to schools in Delhi and nearby rural districts for free in the first phase.
It will then move on to target 12 rural districts across India which are selected along with Niti Aayog.
The 12 districts will comprise 3 from each region including the West, East, North, and South.
It is also prioritising remote areas with little to no terrestrial internet infrastructure.
Services it is planning to launch in India include, apart from satellite broadband internet, content storage and streaming, multimedia communication.
Products it will be involved in include satellite phones, network equipment, wired and wireless communication devices, data transmission and reception equipment.