According to some recent reports of tech and e-commerce giant, Amazon, they are taking fresh steps for equipping Satellite Internet, and India to become the battleground for Bezos and Musk’s Confrontation.
About Kuiper: Amazon’s Satellite
Amazon’s satellite internet play, Kuiper is expected to be launched in India sooner or later in the next year, those who are familiar with the matter have stated that the plan is pending a series of regulatory approvals like landing rights required for “downlinking signals of foreign satellites into the country.”
Amazon is, investing over $10 billion into building a constellation of 3,236 low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites aimed at beaming down internet connectivity to users, however, detailed plans for India have yet to be disclosed. India, has been identified as one of the key emerging markets to launch Kuiper in, with Amazon estimating the near-term opportunity at around $500 million.
Current situation of India on terms of the internet
In the past few years, India has made significant jump in mobile internet penetration rates but, as per some reports, almost 75% of the rural population still do not have access to broadband internet due to a lack of fibre and cellular connectivity. While costs raging high at the moment, LEO satellite systems are viewed as a viable alternative.
Elon Musk keeping an eye on rival Bezos
On the progress of Kuiper, there will be a close eye of Elon Musk. In middle March this year, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket deployed an additional 60 Starlink satellites across what is already a mammoth constellation comprising roughly 1,300 satellites.
The company is hoping to take this number up to 40,000 in the upcoming time. In February, SpaceX announced that it was already proving its satellite internet service to around 10,000 customers, stating that Starlink was no longer “theoretical and experimental.”
And in March, Starlink started permitting Indian users to pre-order its services across several locations around the country for a completely refundable payment of $99. According to the Starlink website, the orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis. Starlink can be active in India till 2022.
Plans for the Indian citizens and competition between firms in the race
According to recent reports, Amazon’s Kuiper and SpaceX’s Starlink won’t have the entire Indian market all to themselves. On 28th May, a successful launch of 36 satellites saw OneWeb’s LEO satellite constellation grow to 218. It needs to undertake only one more launch before it can enable its ‘Five to 50’ service, which is aimed at providing connectivity to all regions which locate north of 50 degrees latitude.
OneWeb, a company that was about to go bankrupt in 2010, but then it received a fresh flow of investment from the Bharti Group, which is led by Sunil Mittal, along with the UK government, is also readying its satellite internet services to launch next year.
While Kuiper and Starlink will include targeting urban internet users, OneWeb’s services are, exclusively looking at empowering the rural population with internet connectivity. The entrance of three players into the LEO satellite internet service space can only be a good thing for the average internet user. A competitive satellite broadband space will promise increased innovation and, ultimately, make internet access more affordable for everyone.