OneWeb, a Bharti Airtel backed satellite broadband company is moving fast with its business in India. The company has recently applied for a global mobile personal communication (GMPCS) license so that it can provide satellite broadband services in the country. This move makes OneWeb the first satellite broadband company to apply for a license in India.
According to a FinancialExpress report, OneWeb wants to start the preparations for providing services in India and is looking to lay down the basic infrastructure required for offering satellite broadband services.
OneWeb Might Get the License, But the Spectrum Confusion is Still There
For the unaware, a small battle between the telecom companies including Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea (Vi) and the Broadband India Forum (BIF) has been going on related to the spectrum. It is worth noting that even if OneWeb is successful in acquiring the license, it won’t be able to get the spectrum.
This is because the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Central government haven’t decided whether the spectrum for the satellite services need to be auctioned or just allocated.
The telecom operators believe that the spectrum should be auctioned where both the telecom service providers (TSPs), as well as satellite broadband internet service providers, should be allowed to participate so that they can bid for the frequencies they need.
But at the same time, BIF believes that the spectrum should be allocated to the satellite broadband service providers and not auctioned. OneWeb has plans of starting services in India by mid-2022.
At present, OneWeb has 238 operational low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites in the atmosphere. By the end of June 2021, that number is all set to increase by 36 satellites. SpaceX owned Starlink also plans to start providing satellite broadband services in India during the same period as that of OneWeb.
However, the company is yet to apply for the license. There are some more companies that are interested in entering the satellite broadband services market in India including Amazon’s Project Juniper, US’ Viasat, and Hughes.
It is worth noting that Bharti Airtel hasn’t shown where it stands in the matter of spectrum being auctioned or allocated to the satcom companies. Airtel’s silence might be an answer in itself!