Udayavni Special

OneWeb on track to offer services in India from May 2022: Mittal


PTI, Jul 2, 2021, 10:54 AM IST

AFP photo

New Delhi: Satellite communications company OneWeb on Thursday said it is on track to offer services in India from May 2022 and its offering will benefit not just Airtel, but the other telecom operators as well by pushing broadband into underserved and remote areas of the country.

OneWeb — where Bharti earlier this week announced that it will invest additional Rs 3,700 crore to become the largest shareholder — may also raise some additional funding soon, its Executive Chairman, Sunil Bharti Mittal told reporters at a virtual briefing.

OneWeb also announced the successful lift-off of another 36 satellites to mark the completion of its ‘Five to 50’ mission. With this milestone, the company is on the way to deliver connectivity across the United Kingdom, Canada, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, and the Arctic Region.

The company is on track for full global coverage in 2022 with a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation of 648 satellites. By May 2022, OneWeb’s services will be fully available in India.

“By May next year, there will be 100 per cent global coverage. We are less than ten months away from global coverage. We are working feverishly in major markets like India, Russia, Kazakhstan…to ensure that ground networks are in place,” Mittal said.

Early results of trials are “very satisfying”, he said.

“Our strategy from day one is to collaborate. We are not here to substitute telecom companies, we are not here to substitute fibre or terrestrial radio. We are not even here to substitute geostationary satellites. We are even talking to them to have a joint go-to-market strategy because there are areas of complimentary services that can be offered,” Mittal said.

Asked if Airtel will be the only beneficiary of OneWeb’s connectivity and services, Mittal said, “No. This is open to every operator in the country, we will love to give this to Jio, to Vodafone…My philosophy has been to build infrastructure, share liberally and lower cost for everyone”.

OneWeb may raise some more capital in the coming weeks, and 2-3 active conversations are on in this regard.

“Our services complement the telecom industry. There are areas in India where broadband connectivity is not available, despite BharatNet, Jio, Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and BSNL, a lot of areas where providing broadband be it fibre or radio is not possible. With this, it will be achieved,” Mittal promised.

He said the company is in active discussion with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), for also launching its satellites using both PSLV and SSLV.

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