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Reliance Jio partners with SES to offer high-speed broadband internet from space

While SES will offer its satellite data and connectivity services, here’s what Jio is expected to bring to the table.

Reliance Jio and SES, a global satellite-based content connectivity solutions provider based in Luxembourg, have formed a joint venture to provide broadband services in India through satellite technology, according to a press release on February 14. The equity stake in the joint venture, Jio Space Technology Limited, will be in the ratio of 51 (Jio): 49 (SES), the release added.

Jio Space will be using satellite technology such as multi-orbit space networks to provide broadband services. The company also informed that the network will consist of geostationary (GEO) and medium earth orbit (MEO) satellite constellations.

Jio has also entered into a multi-year capacity purchase agreement, based on certain milestones, along with gateways and equipment purchase, for $100 million as an anchor customer in the JV. The entry of Reliance Jio shows that the broadband-from-space sector is shaping up to be the next battleground for telcos.

What do we know about the joint venture?

Jio, in its press release, said that the joint venture will deliver multi-gigabit links (up to 100 Gbps) and cloud capacity to enterprises, mobile backhaul, and retail customers across India and neighbouring regions. As part of the investment plan, the joint venture will develop extensive gateway infrastructure in India to provide services within the country.

The joint venture will be the entity through which SES’s satellite data and connectivity services will be provided in India. An exception will be made for certain international aeronautical and maritime customers. Jio will offer managed services and gateway infrastructure operations services to the joint venture.

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“The joint venture will leverage SES-12, SES’s high-throughput GEO satellite serving India, and O3b mPOWER, SES’s next-generation MEO constellation, to extend and complement Jio’s terrestrial network, increasing access to digital services and applications,” read the statement.

Jio seeks licence for satellite communication services

Reliance Jio Infocomm recently incorporated a satellite unit, Jio Satellite Communications Ltd, which applied for a global mobile personal communication by satellite services (GMPCS) licence with the Department of Telecommunications, Economic Times reported.

It became the second telecom company after Bharti Airtel to foray into the satcom space. The formal entry will pit the company against players like OneWeb backed by Airtel, Starlink offered by SpaceX, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, and Tata-Telesat.

Who are Reliance Jio’s competitors?

OneWeb: OneWeb, backed by Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Enterprises, has already applied for a GMPCS licence. The company applied for two permits, a National Long Distance (NLD) licence and a Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite (GMPCS) licence. Bharti Chairman Sunil Mittal claimed that the company will be service-ready by 2022, in a press conference. It is yet to get the permit.

Starlink: The company, backed by Elon Musk, has been mired in troubles and the launch of the company remains uncertain. Starlink’s India head Sanjay Bhargava resigned as its Country Director and Chairman. Bhargava did not provide a specific explanation for his resignation but cited “personal reasons” as the cause in his LinkedIn post. The company informed that it has been directed by the DoT to refund pre-orders until it receives a licence.

Tata-Telesat: Tata-owned Nelco has, in partnership with Canadian firm Telesat, applied for an experimental licence and spectrum for conducting trials of their broadband-from-space offering. The duo is looking to launch the global ‘Lightspeed’ satellite internet services by 2024.

Project Kuiper floated by Jeff Bezos is also looking to enter India as part of its global space internet initiative.

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I cover several beats such as Crypto, Telecom, and OTT at MediaNama. I can be found loitering at my local theatre when I am off work consuming movies by the dozen.

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