Reliance Jio, a leading telecom operator in India, also plans to offer satellite broadband services through its satcom (satellite communications) arm - Jio Satellite Communications Ltd (JSCL). The company applied for the Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite Services (GMPCS) license earlier this year. OneWeb, backed by the Bharti Group, has already secured this license. According to an ET report, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has provided JSCL with a letter of intent (LoI) for the same. This would make JSCL the second company after OneWeb to secure this license to offer broadband services via satellites.
Jio has been making moves in the satcom segment as well. The company had partnered with Luxembourg's SES, a global satcom company, a 51:49 joint venture (JV) - Jio Space Technology Ltd, to offer high-speed broadband services in India through satellites.
Jio Space Tech is developing extensive gateway infrastructure in the country and will leverage the MEO (medium earth orbit) and GEO (geostationary) satellite constellations.
We will get to see strong competition in the space broadband sector in the coming years as many private companies plan to enter the market. Apart from OneWeb and JSCL, there are companies such as Tata-owned Nelco, Canada-based Telesat, SpaceX's Starlink and Amazon's Project Kuiper.
According to the publication's report, post the issuance of LoI, Jio must adhere to the terms and conditions and deposit bank guarantees (BGs) to DoT amounting to Rs 1 crore. After this only a GMPCS license will be issued.
It is worth noting that there's still no clarity around spectrum allocation for the satcom companies. The DoT is waiting for the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on the matter. The telcos want the spectrum to be auctioned for everyone, while the satellite players want the spectrum to be allocated administratively as is practised in the international markets.