SpaceX's Starlink will concentrate on 10 rural constituencies to provide internet services

SpaceX's Starlink To Focus On 10 Rural Lok Sabha Constituencies For Broadband Connectivity

by Bhaswati Guha Majumder - Oct 4, 2021 01:47 PM +05:30 IST
SpaceX's Starlink To Focus On 10 Rural Lok Sabha Constituencies For Broadband ConnectivitySpace X's CEO Elon Musk
  • Starlink Country Director Sanjay Bhargava said that the company will focus on ten rural Lok Sabha constituencies for 80 per cent of the Starlink terminals shipped to India.

SpaceX's satellite broadband arm Starlink, which is about to come to India, would focus on 10 rural Lok Sabha constituencies to deliver internet services, revealed a report citing the comments from a top company official.

Members of Parliament, ministers and top government officials would have virtual talks with the corporation about the value of broadband connectivity in altering lives in rural communities, a report by Business Standard added.

According to Sanjay Bhargava, SpaceX's newly hired India head, the company will soon apply to the Indian government for a licence to begin the Starlink satellite broadband services, to reach 200,000 active terminals by December 2022.

He said: "In October I am also keen to have 30-minute virtual conversations with MPs, ministers, secretaries to GOI (government of India), or principal secretaries to states to see if they think 100 per cent broadband would help improve lives. We will probably focus on ten rural Lok Sabha constituencies for 80 per cent of the Starlink terminals shipped to India."

Bhargava had previously stated on social media that the pre-orders from India had surpassed 5,000 and that the company was eager to operate in rural regions to provide broadband services. However, he expressed doubt about the target number of terminals if the company does not receive official approval to begin satellite-based service in India.

Bhargava said: “A remote area in Goa wanted Starlink. We will be working with rural constituencies who are keen to give 100 per cent broadband. Most of this will be provided by terrestrial broadband but the hard-to-serve areas will be handled by Satcom providers like Starlink.”

He also noted that the company is looking forward to “the day a rural constituency in India can declare itself to be 100 per cent broadband”.

The Starlink Country Director, Bhargava noted that the government approval process is complex. He said: “So far there is no application pending with the government, so the ball is in our court to apply for consideration which we are working on.”

As claimed by the company's top official in India, their approach will be to get the pilot approval sooner “if pan-India approval will take long”. According to Bhargava, "We are optimistic that we will get approval for a pilot program or Pan India approval in the next few months".

Moreover, while highlighting the global chip scarcity, Starlink noted: "The semiconductor shortage has affected the rate at which Starlink kits can be manufactured. There is a shortage of liquid oxygen which is required for the rockets to put more Starlink satellites into space. Global pre-orders have crossed 500,000 and around 100,000 terminals are active so there is a big global backlog."

In August, billionaire and CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk said that his company has shipped 1 lakh Starlink terminals. In a series of tweets, Musk said that the internet service is now available to customers in 14 countries, including United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Austria, Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Portugal, New Zealand and Australia.

According to reports, Starlink is charging a deposit of $99 (Rs 7,350) per customer. It claims to deliver data speed in the range between 50 to 150 megabits per second in the beta stage.

In broadband, the company's services will compete with those of Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea, and it will be a direct competitor to Bharti Group-backed OneWeb, which is a satellite communications startup that intends to begin offering its services in India in May 2022.

Spectrum allotment for mobile services is a source of contention between telecom and satellite companies, particularly in frequency ranges deemed suitable for 5G services.

The Department of Telecom has asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for its opinion on spectrum distribution; however, the future of satellite-based broadband services is contingent on the technique and process that the government chooses for radio wave allocation.

But satellite operators do not want spectrum to be auctioned off to them. Telecos have asked for parity in spectrum allocation because they only receive radio waves through auctions.

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