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SpaceX Starlink Has New Competition as Amazon May Launch Satellite Internet in India

A satellite roaming in the lower-Earth orbit. (Image Credit: Pexels)

A satellite roaming in the lower-Earth orbit. (Image Credit: Pexels)

Nearly 75 percent of India's rural population still does not have access to broadband since many locations are without cellular or fibre connectivity. As a result, LEO satellite systems are being viewed as a viable alternative, though it is costly initially.

Amazon is reported to begin steps for bringing high-speed satellite internet services to India soon, people familiar with the matter were quoted in an Economic Times report as saying. The move, according to reports, is set to spark off competition with arch-rivals OneWeb and SpaceX, in order to potentially drive down satellite broadband rates. Amazon will soon approach the government to discuss the modalities, authorisations, permits, landing rights, and satellite bandwidth leasing costs, the ET report cited sources as saying.

Amazon is already investing over $10 billion (roughly Rs 72,500 crores) to build a constellation of 3,236 low-Earth orbit satellites as part of its global space internet initiative, Project Kuiper. The Department of Space (DoS) gives landing rights for downlinking signals of foreign satellites into the country. The sources told ET that talks with the Department of Space and Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will happen on the necessary regulatory approvals to bring Amazon’s high-speed broadband services to India via its Project Kuiper constellation.

Amazon declined to comment on the matter. The report further quoted industry executives as saying that it is a critical emerging satellite internet market that Amazon cannot ignore. It also goes on to point out that nearly 75 percent of India’s rural population still does not have access to broadband since many locations are without cellular or fibre connectivity. “As a result, LEO satellite systems are being viewed as a viable alternative, though it is costly at present," the report said.

Bharti-backed OneWeb and Elon Musk’s SpaceX have already announced plans for India. SpaceX and OneWeb are readying to start satellite broadband operations in India next year, leveraging their lower-Earth orbit satellite constellations.

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The ET report also cites experts as saying that Amazon’s entry in the satellite internet services could help towards bringing the price down, which is at nearly 30 times the price of 4G mobile broadband in India.

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