The consumers and the industry stakeholders alike are excited about the launch of fifth-generation technology in India. 5G and all the related technologies like ORAN, Massive MIMO and mmWave are all the buzzwords in the telecom industry right now. However, there are currently small inklings of new technology in development, and that is satellite communication. While satellite communication is not unheard of, its consumer and business application have been strictly limited for research and defence purposes mostly. But, with the foray of companies like Starlink, HughesNet and ViaNet in the United States, the uptake for such technologies in India is also catching up.
Satellite Players Readying Themselves in India
It is worth noting that a lot of companies are showing interest in satellite communication. Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal has already said that he is looking to reduce costs of satellite access terminal under the banner of Airtel Business. Not only this, but another big billionaire led company of India, Tata Group, which is also a global name in the list of industry behemoths, have readied itself with a partnership with Telesat. Under this partnership, Tata Group has clearly hinted towards the development of satellite communication technology. The issue with satellite broadband is the launch of multiple satellites in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) which is 100 to 200 Kms away from the earth surface as opposed to a geostationary orbit which is thousands of Kms away.
Growth of Satellite Broadband in India Still Ahead
The speed test of Starlink satellites which yielded very positive results that compare to wired broadband services is also a positive signal for the industry that in the long haul, with the reduction of costs, increased efficiency and high uptake by consumers and businesses, satellite broadband will be in equal footing with fixed broadband services. In India, however, things might be a little more tricky since we have not yet seen the launch of 5G services, whereas, in the countries like the USA, 5G has been active for some time. The top fear that satellite communication might bring for Indian businesses and investors might be the high costs.
However, to allay these fears, the first and foremost impetus would have to come from the government, which would have to change the laws pertaining to satellite launch in order to make it easier for the companies to have satellite presence in a much easier way. The second would, of course, be the industry-wide focus on development and production along with the required innovation in ICT. Not only this, but the prices in the industry have been too low for too long, and a price hike has been in the making for the last few years. The coming of 5G is only going to drive the data prices upwards. In the telecom industry, we are already getting to see the hints of rising prices on the data front. Besides, satellite broadband communication will firstly cater to businesses. In a reasonable timeline of events, coupled with the current market forces, it would not be far fetched to say that satellite communication would be within reach of both businesses and consumers in the coming years.