India's space gatekeepers pick Eutelsat OneWeb to provide satellite broadband

Bharti Enterprises-backed outfit beats Kuiper and Starlink

The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) has approved Eutelsat OneWeb to provide commercial satellite broadband services.

The space regulator said [PDF] that OneWeb India is the first company authorized for enabling an India-focused Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation.

This means the Eutelsat subsidiary beat out Kuiper, Reliance Jio's satcom division, and Starlink for the job.

IN-SPACe expects OneWeb India to now provide internet services to rural unconnected areas on a 24-hour basis, it said. The validity of the authorization is five years.

Eutelsat OneWeb already has 648 satellites orbiting Earth and is slated to provide about 21 Gbps throughput over India.

"This authorization means Eutelsat OneWeb can launch commercial connectivity services as soon as spectrum allocation has been granted by the Indian government," the company said.

OneWeb India already holds the necessary licenses with the Department of Telecommunications to provide satellite broadband, as well as in-principle approval to establish and operate gateways in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.

According to Statista, India had more than 672 million people without an internet connection as of last month.

"This will be a critical step forward to meet India's ambition of providing internet connectivity for all," said Indian billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal. Mittal is the founder of Bharti Enterprises, which owns over 20 percent of OneWeb.

OneWeb is also a founding member of the Indian Space Association (ISpA), an organization that connects the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) with private industries.

ISRO and OneWeb have hooked up before. In March, the duo launched 36 satellites into orbit.

Starlink, on the other hand, failed to secure proper licenses in 2021, but did not let that get in the way of taking pre-orders. The Department of Telecommunications advised locals not to subscribe to the service and eventually ordered the Musk company to issue refunds. ®

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