Leaping Ahead: OneWeb India First to Receive Satellite Broadband Authorization in India

OneWeb India, a subsidiary of Eutelsat OneWeb, has made a significant breakthrough by becoming the first company to receive approval from the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) to launch commercial satellite broadband services in India. This marks a crucial milestone in the Indian satellite broadband landscape, positioning OneWeb India as a pioneer in this emerging sector.

Key Aspects of the Approval and Project

  1. First to Receive IN-SPACe Authorization: OneWeb India is the inaugural company to gain authorization from IN-SPACe for launching satellite broadband services in India, a significant feat considering India is the world’s second-largest internet user market​​​​​​.
  2. Project Details and Capabilities:
    • OneWeb India aims to provide internet services to unconnected rural areas on a 24-hour basis.
    • The validity of this authorization is five years.
    • OneWeb India currently has 648 satellites in orbit, providing an estimated throughput of about 21 Gbps over India​​​​.
  3. Strategic Gateways in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu: The company received in-principle approval to establish and operate two gateways in these states, which are crucial for the rollout of their services​​​​​​.
  4. Anticipation for Spectrum Allocation: The launch of services is contingent upon spectrum allocation by the Indian government, which is a critical next step for OneWeb India. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is expected to release recommendations on satellite spectrum allocation following a consultation process that concluded in June​​​​.
  5. Competition and Industry Context:
    • OneWeb India leads ahead of SpaceX’s Starlink and Reliance’s JioSpaceFiber in obtaining this crucial approval.
    • The space sector in India has historically been driven by government initiatives, with private companies mainly serving as vendors and suppliers. However, India’s space budget is modest compared to global leaders, holding an estimated 2% of the global space economy market share​​.
  6. Indian Space Policy 2023: The Indian government introduced this policy to stimulate growth in the domestic space industry and increase global presence. It encourages private sector involvement in space-related activities, marking a strategic shift in India’s space endeavors​​.
  7. Bharti Airtel’s Involvement: Bharti Airtel, which owns more than a fifth of OneWeb, views the satellite-beamed internet as a means to reduce data costs in India. Akhil Gupta, vice chairman of Bharti Enterprises, envisions satellites being complementary to terrestrial connections, potentially reducing the cost per gigabyte​​.
  8. OneWeb’s Role in Indian Space Association (ISpA): As a founding member, OneWeb collaborates with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and private industries. This collaboration was evident in March when ISRO and OneWeb launched 36 satellites into orbit​​.

Significance and Future Prospects

This approval is a critical step in meeting India’s ambition of providing internet connectivity for all, especially in rural and unconnected areas. The entry of OneWeb into the Indian satellite broadband market is expected to revolutionize the sector, offering high-speed, low-latency internet connectivity across the country. This initiative aligns with India’s broader aim of enhancing digital infrastructure and connectivity, potentially impacting millions who currently lack internet access​​​​.

In summary, OneWeb India’s approval from IN-SPACe to launch satellite broadband services in India is a landmark development in the country’s space and telecommunications sector. It sets the stage for enhanced connectivity, particularly in rural areas, and reflects India’s evolving landscape in space technology and digital infrastructure. As the project progresses, it is poised to play a significant role in bridging the digital divide and driving technological advancements in India.



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