Satellite Broadband by Tata Nelco, Telesat May Soon Rival Musk’s Starlink in India

Satellite broadband services may soon become the next area of competition among service providers. After multiple big ticket entries have already been tipped, the latest entrant in this sector is expected to be the Tata Group, in partnership with Canadian company, Telesat. According to a report by The Economic Times, Tata Group’s Nelco is in talks with Telesat to bring the company’s Lightspeed satellite broadband services to India by 2024. Talks of a partnership between the two companies are reportedly in final stages, suggesting that trials for the service may begin soon.

Telesat has an expansive satellite broadband plan in place, where it aims to invest close to $5 billion (approx. Rs 37,200 crore) to set up 298 low Earth orbit satellites. The constellation of satellites is tipped to be more effective than traditional satellite networks, in terms of the peak network strength and speeds that they can offer. Satellite broadband services are expected to be a lifeline in tricky terrains, where it is difficult for wired internet services to reach. Given the diversity of terrains in India, services such as Lightspeed by Telesat and Elon Musk’s Starlink are expected to be key connectivity resources.

It will be interesting to see how competition gears up in this space in the coming years. Musk’s Starlink has already initiated pre-bookings for its service, which is expected to become operational with an average connection bandwidth of around 150 Mbps by 2022. Bharti Airtel is also backing OneWeb satellite internet service to start operating from 2022, while Amazon may also enter this segment with its own satellite broadband services. WIth India being one of the biggest internet consumption markets in the world, the demand for such services in fringe areas is expected to increase.

India has one of the biggest scopes of growt for internet services, given a significant section of the population that is yet to gain access to stable, high speed connectivity. The nation saw a massive influx of internet users owing to Reliance Jio, which drastically reduced mobile internet costs and expanded areas of connectivity, bringing affordable and consistent internet to more sections of the country. The service also forced other telecom operators to innovate in the telecom space, leading to India becoming one of the most affordable countries in the world in terms of internet connectivity.