Elon Musk-led SpaceX’s satellite broadband arm Starlink aims to start broadband service in India from December 2022, with 2 lakh active terminals subject to permission from the government, a top company official said on Friday.
Starlink Country Director for India Sanjay Bhargava in his social media post said that the pre-order from India has crossed 5,000 and the company is keen to work in rural areas for providing broadband services. “Our stretch target is to have 2,00,000 terminals active in India in December 2022. Actual numbers may be much lower than that or even zero if we do not get government approval but it is very unlikely that we will exceed 2,00,000,” Bhargava said.
The company is charging a deposit of USD 99 or Rs 7,350 per customer and claims to deliver data speeds in the range of 50 to 150 megabit per second in beta stage. The services of the company will compete with that of Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea in broadband and it will be a direct competitor to Bharti Group-backed OneWeb. “A remote area in Goa wanted Starlink. We will be working with rural constituencies who are keen to have 100 per cent broadband. Most of this will be provided by terrestrial broadband, but the hard-to-serve areas will be handled by Satcom providers like Starlink.
“We look forward to the day a rural constituency in India can declare itself to be 100 per cent broadband,” Bhargava said. In a pre-order note, Starlink said that its service is available in many countries and it will be easier for it to get government approvals if it has a high number of pre-orders from India. “The government approval process is complex. So far there is no application pending with the government, so the ball is in our court to apply for consideration which we are working on. Our approach will be to get pilot approval quickly if pan India approval will take long.
“We are optimistic that we will get approval for a pilot program or Pan India approval in the next few months,” the note said. The note also explained uncertainty around the delivery of Starlink services due to shortage of semiconductor and liquid oxygen.
“The semiconductor shortage has affected the rate at which Starlink kits can be manufactured. There is a shortage of liquid oxygen which is required for the rockets to put more Starlink satellites into space. Global pre orders have crossed 5,00,000 and around 1,00,000 terminals are active so there is a big global backlog,” the Starlink note said.