New Delhi: Billionaire Elon Musk’s satellite internet venture Starlink is mulling to start broadband services in India from December next year, subject to the government approval, a senior company representative said on Friday. Starlink Country Director India, Sanjay Bhargava, in a LinkedIn post, stated that the pre-orders from India have crossed 5,000 and the company is willing to work with rural constituencies for providing broadband services.
He also mentioned that, “Our stretch target is to have 2,00,000 terminals active in India in December 2022. Actual numbers maybe much lower than that or even zero if we do not get government approval but it is very unlikely that we will exceed 2,00,000.”
Starlink is charging “a deposit of $99 (around Rs 7,350) per user” and says that the speed currently “varies between 50 and 150 megabit per second (mbps)” in beta stage. “Availability is subject to regulatory approval. Orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis,” the company added.
Mr Musk, last month, had hinted that Starlink may “come out of beta” stage in October.
Starlink, in a pre-order note, stated that the company’s presence is in many countries and the more pre-orders it gets from India, it will be easier for it to get government approval.
“The government approval process is complex. 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. Our approach will be to get pilot approval quickly if pan India approval will take long. We are optimistic that we will get approval for a pilot program or pan India approval in the next few months,” the satellite company added.
Starlink is yet to apply for a license through an official route.
The note further mentioned that the “global pre-orders have crossed 5,00,000 and around 1,00,000 terminals are active so there’s a big global backlog.”
Amazon Also To Join The Play?
If some reports are to be believed, it is apparently learnt that Amazon is also exploring ways to get an entry in the country’s telecom sector via its ‘Project Kuiper’. Andy Jassy, in his first press interview after he was ascended to Amazon’s top post in July this year, had stated that the company’s new bet was to launch satellites into orbit to widen broadband access.
Amazon’s Project Kuiper is a planned network of satellites that will provide high-speed broadband Internet services to people around the world who lack such access.
Last year, Amazon had said that it will invest more than $10 billion to build a network of more than 3,000 satellites.
Jeff Bezos had stepped down as Amazon CEO on July 5, 2021 to take over the executive chair role to focus on new products and initiatives.
Meanwhile, India’s telecom companies recently got a lifeline from the Centre on payment of their long outstanding adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues. The government announced a four-year moratorium for the mobile companies to settle the dues.