The Mukesh Ambani-led telecom operator, Reliance Jio, is expected to gain landing rights and market access authorisations from the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) this month. These approvals are crucial for the launch of its satellite-based gigabit fibre services in India, according to individuals familiar with the situation.
Jio has completed all required submissions to the space industry regulator, IN-SPACe, and anticipates receiving the necessary authorisations shortly, according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke to Economic Times. These authorisations are essential for the deployment of global satellite bandwidth capacity in India.
The authorisation procedure for IN-SPACe is intricate, involving endorsements from multiple ministries and necessitating security clearances.
Pawan Goenka, the chairman of IN-SPACe, refrained from commenting on the approval status of individual companies when asked by ET about pending authorisations for Jio's satcoms venture. He simply stated that there are multiple applications for IN-SPACe authorisations currently being processed.
In the previous year, Jio Platforms and the satcoms company based in Luxembourg, SES, established a joint venture with a 51:49 ratio to provide broadband connectivity through satellites. This move placed them in a sector where other major players such as Eutelsat OneWeb, Elon Musk's Starlink, Amazon, and the Tatas have also made their presence known.
The satellite division of Jio has already received a GMPCS (global mobile personal communications by satellite services) license from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). However, they are still awaiting approvals from IN-SPACe.
Eutelsat OneWeb, supported by Bharti, stands as the sole operator of a global satellite constellation that has obtained the necessary authorisations from IN-SPACe.
Reliance Jio did not respond to ET's inquiry.
Eutelsat OneWeb and the Jio-SES alliance are both pushing to gain an early edge over competitors such as Starlink, Amazon led by Jeff Bezos, and Tatas in the emerging Indian satellite communications market that possesses significant growth potential.
Jio's president, Mathew Oommen, recently stated that Jio's satellite services division could launch JioSpaceFiber services just weeks after receiving the spectrum allocation.
The recent Telecommunications Act of 2023 provides legal support for the distribution of satellite spectrum through administrative means. Consequently, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is expected to assign these airwaves in a relatively short time, according to sources mentioned previously.
Satellite broadband services in India will mainly focus on regions currently underprovided by conventional terrestrial broadband solutions. This includes rural and remote areas with minimal or no access to high-speed internet.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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