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India to get OneWeb services by July/August

March 17, 2023

By Chris Forrester

March 26th, subject to the usual weather constraints, should see an Indian rocket lift-off with 36 OneWeb satellites, and place them into their transfer orbits.

This launch, taking place from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, will be OneWeb’s 18th launch to date and its third in 2023, completing its first generation LEO constellation, and enabling the company to initiate global coverage in during the year.

It also brings much closer the start of broadband-by-satellite services in India itself. OneWeb executive chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal has said the company will be ready to provide services in India by July-August.

“This mission marks OneWeb’s second satellite deployment from India, highlighting the collaboration between the UK and Indian space industries. Across India, OneWeb will bring secured solutions not only to enterprises but also to towns, villages, municipalities and schools, including the hardest-to-reach areas across the country,” says the company.

However, there will be plenty of broadband competition within India, not least from operators such as Reliance Jio Infocomm (which has struck a deal with satellite operator SES), Tata Group (working with Telesat of Canada) are also reported to be preparing to enter the market (although as yet there are no Telesat craft in orbit). Two other rival big beasts are also looking at India in the shape of Elon Musk’s Starlink and Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s upcoming Project Kuiper.

Starlink is closer to being readied. Its satellites are operational and it formally applied for an India licence (via Starlink Satellite Communications Pvt Ltd) via India’s Department of Telecommunications. In December 2022, it emerged that Starlink expects the approvals to be in place by the middle of 2023.

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