OneWeb, a satellite communication service provider will now be able to match mobile services rates of western countries but its prices could not be the par with the ‘extremely low’ tariff in India- Sunil Bharti Mittal, the Executive Chairman stated on Sunday.
While sharing the details of the launch of OneWeb, Mittal said that the services will be affordable with that of mobile rates if a community of 30-40 homes in a village is using the service.
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The service is costing more for individual use in India when compared to existing mobile services plans.
Mittal said: "If you ask me, can the pricing of satellite communication be at par with mobile tariffs? Whatever is currently available in the Western world, it can be done today. What is available in India for 2 and 2.5 dollars a month? No, because that is pricing which is extremely low."
OneWeb constellation took a total of 618 satellites for its constellation by launching 36 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites by NewSpace India Limited (NSIL).
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Indian Space Research Organization's LVM3 (Launch Vehicle Mark-3) which has been placed on 36 OneWeb satellites in a low earth orbit has been following a successful launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.
On the affordability front, Mittal stated that some of the governments overseas have deployed universal services obligation funds which will bring down the cost of satellite broadband services for their citizens.
He further said that the launch will bring high speed which will be equivalent to 4G plus or 5G services, helpful to people for in-flight and maritime services.
Sunil Mittal said, "80 per cent of the bandwidth has already been contracted globally. We now have USD 800-900 million of contract across the globe now. Our pricing is very competitive in the satellite segment.”
He further stated that the company is operational now in most of the countries in the Northern hemisphere and regretted the exit of Russia from the OneWeb business map.
Mittal said, "We had a big setback with the Russia-Ukraine war. Six launches that were fully paid for were taken out. Not only OneWeb has been struggling to get money back, it lost 36 satellites.”
He said that India has emerged as one of the serious players in the space industry.
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He mentioned: "There are only very few options left. SpaceX is one of the companies but you know they're also our competitors. But I'm glad they stepped up to give us three rockets. But importantly, I think the prime minister of India recognised the moment and directed the entire space ecosystem in India to step up and give two rockets to OneWeb, that to my mind has been a game changer for us.”
Sunil Mittal also said that the launch marks a very important day for India as well as for ISRO and NCIL who have established themselves as a serious significant player in the commercial space launch industry in the world.
Each India launch will cost around Rs 500 crore, stated Mittal.
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While OneWeb reportedly has the permit for satellite services launch, it must wait until Spacecom Policy is in place and spectrum is allocated to the company for transmitting signals.
Mittal said that the spectrum for satellites is a shared resource and globally it has been allocated without auction.
"I personally don't feel that India will go away from the global practices," Mittal said.
He further added that the satellite communication service provider firm has a global capacity of 1.1 TBPS of which 11 GBPS is dedicated to India.OneWeb is in discussion with companies to manufacture user satellite terminals in India.
"India will become a destination to manufacture these terminals because Chinese terminals are unlikely to be manufactured in most parts of the world," Mittal said.
The Bharti group founder also said that he expects all permission required for services launch in India to be in place by July-August. The company will sell the service through partners instead of selling it directly.
"We will not be going to go to end customers. I am not going to fight with Airtel, Jio, Vodafone or globally any telecom operator. We are combining with them," Mittal said.
The company had discussions with the Indian armed forces, and navy, and Mittal stated that everyone is waiting for the new satellite services from the company.
"Airtel enterprise wing will be selling these services to enterprise customers. Our joint venture with Hughes will be primary source of sales into the rest of the market including government, defence," Mittal said.
Indian Space Association Director General A K Bhatt said that the completion of the last leg of the first-generation LEO constellation of 600 satellites by Bharti-backed OneWeb has set a significant benchmark for the entire Indian space industry in the downstream application of satellite communication in India.
A K Bhatt further said, "This will surely aid in addressing the issue of low fixed broadband penetration and bridge the digital divide in the country's most remote areas. We are excited about the potential it holds and the positive impact it will have on our nation's aspirations for digital transformation.”
Inputs from PTI