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Bharti’s OneWeb gets nod to offer satellite internet in India

OneWeb says it is ready to deploy as soon as it receives the final spectrum authorization from DoT to launch commercial services

Bharti’s OneWeb gets nod to offer satellite internet in India
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

Bharti Group-backed Eutelsat OneWeb India, the local arm of low-earth orbit satellite operator Eutelsat OneWeb, has become the first company to get regulatory nod to launch commercial satellite broadband services in India.

Space regulator Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) gave Eutelsat OneWeb permission to use its satellite network to offer communication services in India on Tuesday.

Eutelsat OneWeb is a global constellation comprising 634 low earth orbit satellites orbiting Earth at a 1,200 km altitude in circular polar orbits, the company said, adding that the satellites will offer internet at speeds of up to 21 Gbps. OneWeb has used different agencies, including SpaceX and Isro, to place the satellites in orbit.

To be sure, Eutelsat, a French satellite company, completed its merger with OneWeb, a UK-based satellite firm partly owned by Bharti Airtel, in September.

The permit to offer commercial satellite broadband services is valid for five years and is subject to the assignment of the spectrum by the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) for both the gateways and user terminal operations.

While the company has obtained global mobile personal communication by satellite services (GMPCS) license from DoT, the IN-SPACe approval was the final piece required before commencing operations. The only remaining requirement is the allocation of spectrum for direct transmission of broadband signals to customers in India.

“The Indian space regulator’s green light to launch Eutelsat OneWeb’s commercial satellite broadband services in India will be a critical step forward to meet India’s ambition of providing internet connectivity for all,” Sunil Bharti Mittal, Bharti Group chairman and vice-president (co-chair) of the board of directors of Eutelsat Group, said in a statement.

Mittal said Eutelsat OneWeb is ready to deploy as soon as it receives the final spectrum authorization to launch commercial services.

“We are pleased to have received these approvals from the space regulator that bring the country a significant step closer to providing high-speed connectivity to even the most remote locations,” Cyril Dujardin, co-general manager of connectivity at Eutelsat Group, said.

OneWeb will compete with Amazon’s Project Kuiper, SpaceX’s Starlink, and Reliance’s Jio Satellite in the satcom sector. Besides OneWeb, Jio Satellite has also obtained a GMPCS license. 

India’s Space Policy 2023 allows foreign entities to establish infrastructure and offer satellite services in India. The policy opens the doors for private low-earth orbit and medium-earth orbit satellite constellation operators to provide high-speed satellite internet services.

Under the policy, IN-SPACe is the sole single-window authority for regulating various space activities and granting authorization for conducting space activities in the country by both government and private companies.

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