india: OneWeb to soon receive ​landing rights, market access approvals in India


Bharti-backed OneWeb is set to shortly receive the crucial landing rights and market access approvals from the government to deploy its global satellite systems for launching broadband from space services in India later this year.

OneWeb has applied to the Indian National Space Promotion & Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) — a central regulatory body mandated to attract private capital into the space sector — for these statutory clearances.

“We have already applied to IN-SPACe for the requisite approvals (read: landing rights and market access) and are confident these will come through soon,” a senior OneWeb executive told ET.

OneWeb — co-owned by India’s Bharti Group and the UK government –- recently bagged the crucial GMPCS (global mobile personal communications by satellite services) licence from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). OneWeb’s other key shareholders are Eutelsat Communications, Hanwha Systems, SoftBank and Hughes Networks.

After the GMPCS nod, approvals towards satellite landing rights and market access are critical for OneWeb to establish in-country earth stations (read: satellite gateways) and also deploy its low earth

(LEO) global satellite bandwidth capacity in India. OneWeb has sought DoT approval for setting up the gateways.

“Setting up earth stations is a natural progression following grant of GMPCS licence, and we plan to set up two in the country, one each in North and South India to bring satellite broadband connectivity to users…land pockets have been identified,” the OneWeb executive cited said.

The UK-based satellite operator will deploy satellite bandwidth capacity in the Ka (27-40 GHz) and Ku (12-18 GHz) spectrum bands. OneWeb is setting up a global constellation of 648 LEO satellites to launch high-speed, low-latency satellite broadband services in rural and remote regions globally, including in India.

Last week, OneWeb inked a key pact with New Space India Ltd (NSIL), the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), to launch its remaining LEO satellites for speeding up delivery of satellite broadband services in India and across the world.

OneWeb, though, expects the India launch to be delayed beyond the original May 2022 timeline due to challenges posed by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Before the pact with NSIL, it had inked a separate agreement with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to resume satellite launches, amid geopolitical tensions arising from the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Competition is set to intensify in India’s relatively nascent broadband-from-space services segment after

Jio recently became the second telco after Bharti to throw its hat into the satcoms ring. In February, Mukesh Ambani-owned Jio Platforms (JPL) teamed up with Luxembourg’s SES with the aim of delivering broadband from space services across India and neighbouring markets using geostationary (GEO) and medium earth orbit (MEO) satellite constellations.

A separate Jio arm has also applied to DoT for a GMPCS licence.

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