Amazon, owned by world’s richest person Jeff Bezos is likely to compete with Elon Musk’s Starlink and Bharti’s OneWeb (backed by Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Group and the UK government) in the satelliet broadband segment in Iadia.
Amazon is investing into PROJECT KUIPER which is over $10 billion to build a constellation of 3,236 lowearth orbit (LEO) satellites as part of its global space internet initiative. It has yet to disclose India the plans though.
They will approach the government to discuss modalities, authorisations, permits, landing rights and satellite bandwidth leasing costs.Talks with the DoS and Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will happen on the necessary regulatory approvals to bring Amazon’s high-speed broadband services to India via its Project Kuiper satellite constellation as part of the global launch.The Department of Space (DoS) gives landing rights for downlinking signals of foreign satellites into the country.
Amazon cannot miss this golden oppurtunity as 75% of the rural population does not have access to broadband since many locations have no cellular or fibre connectivity which can potentially generate $500 million revenue as millions of Indians in rural and remote areas do not have access to fast internet services. As a result, LEO satellite systems are being viewed as a viable alternative, though it is costly at present.
As LEO satellite technology rapidly gains global scale and bandwidth leasing costs head down, it would make strong business for Amazon to quickly make inroads into India’s emerging satellite broadband market to effectively compete with OneWeb and Starlink.
However, Starlink and OneWeb are likely to launch operations in the coming year, with Amazon’s entry to India sure to fuel competition. While OneWeb is focused on the wholesale segment and Starlink will be targeting both the urban and rural segments.
Starlink is open for pre-orders in India for a refundable amount of $99, which might be too expensive for Indian rural consumers, although competition is likely to bring down the cost. Globally, Starlink is believed to have already received more than 500,000 pre-orders. Amazon is yet to launch its services. Experts said Amazon’s potential entry can cut the current high cost of satellite internet services, which is nearly 30 times more expensive than 4G mobile broadband in India.These services are now priced at around $15-20 per GB in the country, about 22-30 times higher than $0.68 per GB for mobile data.
The Indian government has recently altered the rules regarding the use of spectrum bands, antenna sizes and speeds for satellite firms. This change will help in accelerating the use of satellite technology in the country.