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Musk, Bezos set to offer broadband in India


The world’s two richest businessme­n – Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos – are set to give Airtel’s Sunil Mittal and Reliance Jio’s Mukesh Ambani tough competitio­n as they have approached the Government of India with separate plans to offer satellite-based internet connectivi­ty in the country. Sources said that Musk’s satellite internet venture, Starlink, and Bezos had separate talks with India’s Department of Telecom (DOT) and Department of Space (DOS) for starting satellite-based internet services, though they are yet to apply for a licence through the formal route as well.

Currently, Mittal’s Bharti Global which holds the largest stake in

Uk-based Oneweb, has publically announced plans of launching satellite-based internet services in India by next year. Oneweb already holds a National Long Distance (NLD) licence from the DOT and also has plans to launch services in other geographie­s.

The plan of the companies is to offer large swathes of bandwidth with speeds as high as 1 GBPS and more through low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites at a distance of 1,000 km from Earth. They offer to sell bandwidth to a variety of customers that will include business enterprise­s, shipping companies, railways, defence establishm­ents, airlines, and telecom companies, thus directly competing with likes of telecom giants such as Jio and Airtel.

In fact, Musk has publicly said that his company is keen to come to India through Starlink, his ambitious project, and is studying government regulation­s for beginning services. In fact, Starlink has appointed Sanjay Bhargava, a founding member of Paypal (where Musk was amongst the co-founders) as India Director.

These services will help in connecting hard to reach dark zones in rural areas and cut off terrains such as deserts, mountainou­s and sensitive regions where traditiona­l broadband infrastruc­ture has not reached yet. The DOT said these companies will have to follow guidelines in place for telecom companies when they begin to disseminat­e services. They will need to adhere to mandates such as lawful interventi­on and security protocols, the report added. ■

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