Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which is British satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat's strategic partner in India, has secured an Inflight and Maritime Connectivity licence from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to deliver Inmarsat's Global Xpress mobile broadband services in the country.
With this license, the state-owned BSNL will be able to offer Inmarsat's Xpress satellite communication (Satcom) services to the government, aviation, and maritime customers in India.
The company said that customers and partners would be able to use the services in phases.
Inmarsat's connectivity is provided by geostationary satellites, but it will certainly face competition from new low-earth-orbit satellite rivals such as Elon Musk's SpaceX and Sunil Mittal's OneWeb, which beam broadband from considerably closer to the planet.
According to reports, the London-based company has signed agreements with SpiceJet Ltd and the Shipping Corporation of India Ltd, said chief executive officer Rajeev Suri.
In India, the company previously provided dependable but low-data "L-band" services. On its GX network, the new licence allows it to provide substantially faster 4G-like "Ka-band" broadband. However, over the next three years, Inmarsat plans to launch seven more high-capacity GX satellites.
Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh is home to the GX gateway for India.
Inmarsat said in a statement on Wednesday (20 October) that the latest announcement means that Indian airlines will be able to use GX for in-flight connectivity both within the country and around the world. It also said that Indian commercial maritime companies will be able to significantly improve the digitalisation of their ships for more efficient ship operations and crew welfare services.
The company’s CEO Suri said: “Today is a significant day for Inmarsat and our valued, long-term partnership with India, which was a signatory to the founding treaty establishing Inmarsat in 1979."
“Inmarsat is delighted to make the world’s only global high-speed mobile broadband Ka-band network available to the government and businesses in India through our partner BSNL. We are committed to India and the company has been a trusted partner for the Indian government for four decades,” he added.
According to the Chairman and Managing Director of BSNL, P K Purwar, “All of us at BSNL appreciate the commitment to excellence shown by the Indian government as we have worked on approvals to deliver this service to the country.”
Meanwhile, Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director of SpiceJet said: “We are delighted that Global Xpress, the world-leading passenger inflight connectivity service, is now coming to India.”
Singh added that the airline company is excited to provide its passengers with this “ground-breaking” connection service later this year when new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will be introduced.
However, Inmarsat’s existing geosynchronous (GEO) satellite networks [GX and Inmarsat ELERA in the L-band] are being combined with low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites and terrestrial 5G to offer ORCHESTRA—which is, as per the company, a global, multi-dimensional, dynamic mesh network that will reinvent connection at scale by providing the highest capacity for mobility globally.
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