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Reliance, Airtel Internet Service Will Be Closed, Elon Musk Brings New Service

Starlink in India: Elon Musk
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Starlink in India: Reliance, Airtel Internet Service Will Be Closed, Elon Musk Brings New Service

Starlink in India: Elon Musk Starlink is set to become the third provider of satellite internet services in India, joining Jio Satellite Communications and OneWeb.

Regulatory Approval for Starlink

Starlink, Elon Musk’s satellite internet company, is on the verge of obtaining a license to operate in India after navigating regulatory challenges. This development is poised to significantly benefit people in rural and remote regions of the country.

Current Status

Starlink is expected to receive approval from the Indian government this week after it clarifies its shareholding structure to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. Following this, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) may issue a letter of intent.

The approval process involves a note being prepared by the department, which will then be sent to Telecom Secretary Neeraj Mittal and Minister of Communications Ashwani Vaishnav for their approval. Once they give their consent, the Satellite Communications Wing of the department will issue the final approval to Starlink.

Starlink applied for a Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite Services (GMPCS) license in 2022. With this license, it will join Jio Satellite Communications and OneWeb as the third company to provide satellite internet services in India.

However, the DoT’s approval alone won’t allow Starlink to start providing services immediately. Starlink will also need authorization from the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center to establish ground stations. Additionally, after obtaining all necessary approvals, Starlink, along with OneWeb and Jio’s satellite division, will need to wait for the DoT to allocate spectrum before starting their services. Amazon’s Project Kuiper is also seeking a GMPCS license in India.

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Previous Challenges

In 2021, Starlink encountered issues with the Indian government for accepting pre-orders for its terminals without proper authorization. Although Starlink had planned to conduct trials in India, the government instructed the company to refund the pre-order fees, resulting in the resignation of Sanjay Bhargava, the head of Starlink’s India operations.

Starlink applied to the DoT in 2022 to conduct trials with numerous user terminals and gateway stations for technology demonstration, product stabilization, and ecosystem development. However, these trials were not approved.

Benefits of Starlink’s Services in India

Satellite communication (satcom) can deliver broadband speeds comparable to 4G (up to 100 megabits per second), although not reaching the speeds of 5G (up to 10 gigabits per second). Starlink users typically experience download speeds between 25 and 220 Mbps, with most users seeing speeds over 100 Mbps. Upload speeds range from 5 to 20 Mbps, according to the company’s website. This technology is particularly advantageous for consumers in remote areas where traditional internet infrastructure is not feasible.

One significant benefit of satellite communication is the ease and speed of installation compared to traditional terrestrial networks. Starlink has highlighted that satellite broadband connections are especially beneficial for schools and healthcare facilities. The company may initially offer internet services directly to consumers and might also explore enterprise markets. OneWeb, on the other hand, is expected to focus on the B2B segment.

Cost of Starlink Service in India

The exact cost of Starlink’s service in India is not yet known. However, according to information shared by the company’s former India head, the estimated cost in the first year might be around INR 158,000. From the second year, the service cost is expected to be INR 115,000, inclusive of a 30% tax, since Starlink’s equipment is a one-time purchase. The base price for the user equipment is anticipated to be INR 37,400, with a monthly service fee of INR 7,425.

The Future of Satellite Communication in India

Satellite communication in India is still in its early stages but holds significant potential, particularly in rural and remote regions. According to a report by EY-ISpA, India’s space economy is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 6% to reach $13 billion by 2025.

Starlink’s Global Operations

Traditional satellite internet services rely on single geostationary satellites orbiting at 35,786 km, resulting in high latency, which affects high-data activities like streaming, video calls, and online gaming. In contrast, Starlink operates over 5,000 active satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) at about 550 km, offering lower latency of around 25 milliseconds compared to over 600 milliseconds for geostationary satellites.

Starlink is the world’s largest and first satellite constellation to use LEO to deliver broadband internet, supporting activities such as online gaming, video calls, and streaming. SpaceX, Starlink’s parent company, has the unique capability to launch satellites frequently and cost-effectively, ensuring the constellation is regularly updated with the latest technology.

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