BENGALURU (Reuters) – Eutelsat subsidiary Eutelsat OneWeb said on Tuesday it had won approval from India’s space regulator to launch commercial satellite broadband services in the country.
Prime Minister Modi’s government, which is heading for elections next year, is pushing the development of India’s space industry. In the year after India paved the way for private launches in 2020, space startups rose from 21 to 47.
Investors poured $119 million into Indian space startups in 2022, up from a total of just $38 million in all the years up to 2017. They see a less-costly alternative to European launchers that are grounded or under development, as well as access to a bustling manufacturing hub, analysts say
“Eutelsat OneWeb is ready to deploy as soon as it receives the final spectrum authorization to launch commercial services,” Sunil Bharti Mittal, co-chair of Eutelsat Group’s board, said.
The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre said in a statement that the approval for Eutelsat OneWeb’s constellation was valid for a period of five years.
Oneweb is backed by Indian billionaire Mittal’s Bharti Enterprises. Mittal also runs Airtel, India’s No.2 telecom carrier by users. In March, OneWeb partnered with Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to launch 36 satellites.
The $400 billion global commercial space market is expected to be worth $1 trillion by 2030, but at the moment India has only a 2% share, something the government wants to change.
The Indian government has said it to have a $40 billion slice of the market by 2040.
Reuters has previously reported how Elon Musk’s Starlink is at odds with Ambani’s Reliance over India’s distribution of satellite broadband spectrum, setting the stage for a battle between two of the world’s richest men.
Amazon’s Project Kuiper has also been in talks with regulators to offer satellite broadband services in India, the Economic Times newspaper reported last month.
(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Bengaluru; Writing by Kanjyik Ghosh; Editing by Alexander Smith)