Satellite broadband service rollout: Reliance Jio receives a letter of intent; Bharti OneWeb services are delayed, and more


 Reliance The Telecom Department has issued a letter of intent (LoI) to Jio Infocomm's satellite business for satellite communication services. According to industry insiders, Jio Satellite Communications Ltd has received the letter of intent (JSCL). The LoI for global mobile personal communication by satellite (GMPCS) services has been approved by the Department of Telecom (DoT). Jio’s satellite arm is the second company to receive DoT approval to deliver broadband services via satellites after Bharti Group-backed OneWeb. Reliance formed a joint venture earlier this year to provide satellite-based broadband services across India, joining billionaires Elon Musk's SpaceX and Sunil Mittal's OneWeb in the fight to give dependable, high-speed internet everywhere. Nelco, a Tata group satcom subsidiary, and Telesat Canada are also rumoured to be interested.launch satellite broadband services in India. Amazon too is reportedly planning to launch internet services in India.

What is the Jio Satellite Communications Ltd permit about?

With the LoI granted, Reliance Jio Infocomm's satellite business, Jio Satellite Communications Ltd, would be able to set up and operate GMPCS services in the permitted service regions. The licences are valid for 20 years (from the date of its grant after fulfilling stipulated conditions). Voice and data services through satellite are among the GMPCS offers. These mobile satellite networks can use satellites in low-earth orbit (LEO), medium-earth orbit (MEO), and geosynchronous orbit (GEO). Jio Platforms previously announced a partnership with Luxembourg-based SES to develop satellite-based internet services in India.

What is the current status of the OneWeb and SpaceX rollouts?

The launch of rival Bharti Group-backed OneWeb's broadband-from-space services in India has been delayed until at least August 2023, as the business is apparently unable to complete its low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite launches due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The third major player, Elon Musk's SpaceX, is reported to have abandoned its low-cost internet project in the nation, Starlink.

Why have OneWeb services been delayed?

OneWeb has intended to launch broadband services in India by May-June 2022. Hughes Communications India, a joint venture between Hughes and Bharti Airtel, would be responsible for the distribution of OneWeb's space broadband services in India. Hughes, located in the United States, is also a shareholder in EchoStar.OneWeb. However, the Ukraine situation disrupted the company's LEO satellite launch schedule, forcing it to cancel launches from a key cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Approximately 65% of OneWeb's planned 648-strong global LEO network is now in space.

Why have Elon Musk's Starlink services encountered a stumbling block in India?

Starlink established its presence in India through a local subsidiary, Starlink Satellite Communications in India. However, in December of last year (2021), the DoT under the Ministry of Communications urged Starlink to get the appropriate permissions to offer satellite-based internet services in the nation. The government ordered Starlink to halt "booking/providing satellite internet service" in India without a licence. Starlink later stated that it will seek for a commercial licence in India by the end of the year.

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