Jio-SES venture receives approval to start satellite-based Internet service

Orbit Connect India, a joint venture between Jio Platforms and SES, has won approval from the Indian space regulator to operate satellites, Reuters news report said.
Reliance Jio 5G plan in IndiaUS-based Amazon.com and Elon Musk’s Starlink are waiting for the go-ahead to launch satellite communication services in the world’s most populous nation.

Orbit Connect India has received approval in April and June from the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre, known as IN-SPACe. These allow Orbit Connect to operate satellites above India, but further approvals are needed by the country’s department of telecoms to begin operations.

Inmarsat, another company hoping to provide high-speed satellite-based internet, has also received approval to operate satellites over India, IN-SPACe chairman Pawan Goenka said.

Eutelsat’s Bharti Enterprises-backed OneWeb has received approvals late last year.

India’s satellite-based broadband service market is expected to grow 36 percent per year over the next five years and reach $1.9 billion by 2030, according to the consultancy Deloitte.

India has 40.06 million fixed broadband customers and 883.22 million mobile Internet customers at the end of March 2024, according to TRAI statistics. Reliance Jio is the leader in the fixed broadband market with 11.27 million customers. Jio also has 469.73 million mobile Internet customers, commanding leadership.

Globally, the race to connect rural areas of the world via space-based internet is accelerating. Amazon plans to invest $10 billion in Kuiper, which was announced in 2019, the year SpaceX began deploying its first operational Starlink satellites.

Last week, Sri Lanka gave Starlink preliminary approval to provide internet services there.

IN-SPACe will soon authorise private companies to operate ground stations, he said, which would enable satellite operators to download data as they pass over India.

This year, it opened the gates for foreign direct investment in the sector, saying outside companies could invest in the manufacture of components and systems or sub-systems for satellites up to 100 percent without approval.

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