According to Sunil Mittal, chairman, Bharti Airtel, OneWeb is on track to offer services in India from May 2022. Further, he added that its offering will also benefit other telcos as well as will push broadband into underserved and remote areas of the country.
Mittal said OneWeb is close to securing landing rights and market access from the Indian authorities, which will pave the way for it planned rollout of satellite internet services in India by June 2022. Furthermore, it is in active discussion with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), for also launching its satellites using both PSLV and SSLV. OneWeb may also raise some additional funding soon, he added.
The company is on track for full global coverage in 2022 with a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation of 648 satellites.
Further, OneWeb also announced the successful lift-off of another 36 satellites to mark the completion of its ‘Five to 50’ mission. With this major milestone, the Company is on the way to deliver connectivity across the United Kingdom, Canada, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, and the Arctic Region. The completion of the latest launch will take OneWeb’s in-orbit constellation to 254 satellites, or 40 percent of OneWeb’s planned fleet of 648 LEO satellites that will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity. OneWeb intends to make global service available in 2022. Service demonstrations will begin this summer in several key locations – including Alaska and Canada – as OneWeb prepares for commercial service in the next six months. The launch of the latest 36 satellites is conducted by Arianespace from the Vostochny Cosmodrom.
Meanwhile, commenting on the sector, Mittal said that the telecom industry is under tremendous stress, however, added that he is hopeful that the government would take adequate steps to ensure the sector remains vibrant and isn’t reduced to a duopoly. Further, he added that while mobile tariffs should go up, Airtel won’t raise prices unilaterally. Industry average revenue per user (ARPU) at around Rs 130 is way below the pre-Jio Rs 220-230 levels and is totally unsustainable, but any decision to raise tariffs can’t be unilateral since Airtel is already at premium pricing, so it is important to be mindful of the market, but the market repair has to take place, added Mittal.