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Tata applies for a satellite license as the internet space race in India gathers steam

Tata Group now has a horse in the space race, and it’s not standing back.

Tata-owned Nelco has, in partnership with Canadian firm Telesat, applied for an experimental license and spectrum for conducting trials of their broadband-from-space offering, CNBC-Awaaz reported on November 30.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is currently considering the application, the news channel said. The Tata-Telesat combination could be a formidable player in the satellite broadband race, which currently includes giants like Amazon, SpaceX, and Airtel.

What you need to know about Tata-Telesat

  • Timeline: Tata Group and Canadian sat-com provider Telesat had first announced a partnership in September 2020, according to The Hindu. With the final terms of the agreement finalised, the duo is looking to launch the global ‘Lightspeed’ satellite internet services by 2024, ET has reported.
  • Focus segment: “Our focus segment is B2B, and main markets would be cellular backhauls/mobility, remote village connectivity and (meeting) enterprise needs for reliable connectivity with fibre-like latency in rural areas via satellite,” Nelco’s Managing Director PJ Nath told ET.
  • Investment: With Lightspeed, Telesat aims to invest $5 billion to establish a network of 298 satellites, CNBC has reported.

The race for satellite-based broadband

While the Tata-Telesat duo is rushing towards acquiring the relevant licenses, its competitors aren’t far behind:

  • SpaceX’s Starlink: Elon Musk-backed Starlink had recently started enrolling subscribers for its internet services in India. After being chided by the DoT, however, the company has stopped the offering and applied for an experimental license.
  • Amazon Kuiper: Under Project Kuiper, Amazon aims to launch 3,236 satellites to provide internet to “unserved and underserved communities around the world.” Earlier this month, the company announced plans to launch its first two broadband satellites in 2022, India Today has reported.
  • Airtel’s OneWeb: While Lightspeed is scheduled for launch by 2024, OneWeb, backed by Bharti (Airtel’s parent company) might beat it to market with an aim to launch as soon as 2022. OneWeb has also partnered with ISRO to launch its satellites.

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Reporter at MediaNama. Email: nishant@medianama.com

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