Elon Musk Partnering With Jio, Vi For Satellite Internet In India? Launch Date, USPs & More


It will begin its operations by first procuring a trial license.

SpaceX will begin talks with Indian telcos to partner up to provide satellite communication, or broadband from space, services in India.

It will do so through its satellite internet division Starlink.

The Indian companies it is eyeing include Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, BharatNet and Raitel.

Prioritising Remote Regions

Through a collaboration, it intends to provide its services in remote and underserved regions.

Sanjay Bhargava, the India head of SpaceX’s Starlink operation, said that by working together with local service providers, it could “serve the hardest to reach regions”.

The company sees it as an opportunity to “change the game-from pricing to access”.

The Journey Ahead

It will begin its operations by first procuring a trial license.

After this, it will deploy 100 Starlink connections in schools in Delhi and other parts of the country.

It will then seek a restricted commercial license from the government.

Earlier this week, SpaceX registered its wholly-owned subsidiary in India called Starlink Satellite Communications Private Limited or SSCPL.

The India Opportunity

Here, it faces competition from Bharti Global-backed OneWeb, Amazon and Tata-Telesat.

India is seen as an important emerging market for satellite broadband services with a near term annual revenue opportunity of $1 billion.

What makes it so attractive is the untapped 75% of the rural countryside which lacks access to broadband due to absence of cellular or fibre connectivity.

Affordability

Here, low–earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations get a chance to shine as a viable alternative albeit with high costs.

Bhargava said that the company will subsidise its cost for India and that “benefits must outstrip cost.”

To that end, it will explore options to build locally and innovations that could reduce costs.

Independent Approach 

He added that it will independently approach the government and various departments for licenses and other regulatory requirements.

He has ruled out joining any industry representative associations since there are so many of them.

OneWeb has joined the recently formed industry body Indian Space Association (ISpA) which is a consortium of space and satellite companies.

Rural Push

SpaceX is working with Niti Aayog on its aspirational districts program.

After giving away 100 hardware kits to schools in Delhi and nearby rural districts in the first phase, it will move on to 12 rural districts across India which are being picked by the think tank.

The 12 districts will comprise 3 from each region including the West, East, North, and South.


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.

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