Bharti Airtel and Hughes Network Systems to merge VSAT operations in India

Bharti Airtel, the country’s second-largest telecom operator, has announced an agreement with Hughes Communications India Ltd (HCIL) to combine their VSAT operations in India. 

HCIL is a subsidiary of Hughes Network Systems, LLC (Hughes) which is the global leader in broadband satellite networks and services. 
Airtel’s proposed partnership with HCIL, however, is subject to approval by relevant authorities.
The Sunil Bharti Mittal-led telecom operator has been on the task of revamping its network to increase 4G connectivity and capacity to increase its subscriber base. 
The merged entity will benefit from wider market reach, better scale and improved efficiencies. The company will also provide new products and services in addition to serving existing customers.
As per the new agreement Hughes will have the majority stake in the combined entity which will be formed to hold the VSAT operations, with Bharti Airtel also holding significant shares in the company. The combined entity for VSAT will help the company enhance scale, improve operational efficiencies and broaden market reach. 
Airtel and Hughes together will be seeking to fill the demand for secure connectivity in the rapidly growing digital economy. Notably, HCIL is a well known broadband satellite service provider in the country, and it already provides networking technologies, solutions, and services for businesses and governments.
“We are pleased to combine our VSAT operations with Hughes to serve the connectivity needs of Digital India. The partnership will bring amazing synergies to the forefront and combine the proven capabilities of both companies. Customers can look forward to highly secure and reliable connectivity solutions across the length and breadth of India,” Ajay Chitkara, director and CEO, Airtel Business, said.
The new combined entity will be able to provide new products and services related to VSAT, in addition to that, the company will also continue to serve the existing customers of Airtel and Hughes as well.
“We are very excited about the synergies that this partnership will bring to the Indian ecosystem. These are exciting times for satellite broadband service providers as VSAT becomes more mainstream, driven by growing demand from both, enterprise and government segments,” Partho Banerjee, president and managing director, Hughes Communications India Ltd. Added.
VSAT is a crucial technology in the deployment of in-flight connectivity. As per a research firm Euroconsult, over 23,000 commercial aircraft would start providing this connectivity by 2027, up from 7,400 aircraft in 2017. Also, broadband VSAT (very small aperture terminal) connectivity would be in one out of every three aircraft by the end of 2019, whereas by 2026, the number would rise to two third, as per Northern Sky Research’s Aeronautical SatCom Market’s 2017 report.