Elon Musk gets another India shock, from satellite internet

18 Jun 2024

Elon Musk gets another India shock, from satellite internet

Tesla CEO Elon Musk seems to be losing out on his plans to launch satellite-based internet services in India with major Indian telecom operators Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel taking different routes to launch satellite-based services in the country.

Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel is launching its services in a joint venture with Anglo-French satellite communications group Eutelsat OneWeb, which could start operating in June.

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, meanwhile, has teamed up with Luxembourg-based satellite network provider SES for launching its JioSpaceFiber. 

Both Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Mittal have secured necessary licence from telecom regulator for launching satellite-based 5 g services in the country.

While Bharti Airtel already has its satellite partner and is equipped with the necessary licence, Reliance Jio, which operates India’s largest telecom network, is yet to receive nod from India’s space industry regulator IN-SPACe.

Bharti Airtel, which took an early lead in obtaining licence for satellite-based telecom services, is reported to have entered into discussions to provide internet services to the Army and the Navy in remote areas.

Musk’s SpaceX, which owns the communication satellite chain Starlink, has been trying in vain to enter the country for over three years. It had even started enlisting customers, without obtaining a proper operator licence.

Musk has been trying to woo Prime Minister Narendra Modi for launching both his electric vehicle Tesla and satellite internet service Starlink but without any results so far. Musk had told Modi that he was eager to launch his Starlink services in India, so as to connect its remote and isolated areas.

Starlink is reported to have signed up around 5,000 ‘illegal’ subscribers a year ago, but had to close down the services as these were unauthorised.

Musk, however, has got Sri Lanka to approve Starlink’s broadband internet service. The Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) has granted approval for Starlink’s satellite internet services, pending a public consultation process.

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