Elon Musk dropped the ball. But Jeff Bezos looks to have picked it up. Or so it all seems now. A few months ago, the Musk-run SpaceX withdrew its internet project Starlink in India. Now, as it happens, the Bezos-helmed company seems keen to bring its own ambitious 'Project Kuiper' broadband to India.
Though Amazon has not made official any such plans, the fact that it has advertised for a clutch of India-based manager jobs for the project gives room for such a reading. The job listings in the Amazon site was first spotted and reported by TechCrunch. Some of the listings in the page seems to have been taken off after the publication of the news.
But it would not be a surprise if Amazon is doubling down on its India investments, as the country is the second largest internet market in the world.
Amazon will have many rivals in India
Amazon's project Kuiper, which was announced in 2019, aims to bring high speed satellite broadband to communities and regions which are too remote and underdeveloped for fibre broadband providers to reach. Of course, this is also the stated plan of project Starlink. But the latter came unstuck in India after the company fell afoul of Indian telecom laws. The Telecom Ministry pulled it up for accepting pre-orders illegally. The ministry warned users to not pre-order Starlink’s Satellite internet service and stated that the company has been illegally accepting such orders. After that, things fell part for Starlink as it began abandoning the project and started relieving its hired staff.
Amazon has got the green signal from the US authorities to set up an internet-from-space satellite fleet which could be 3200 satellite-strong. In April, it obtained launch rights for upto 83 launches. Amazon has struck a deal with launch providers Arianespace, United Launch Alliance and Bezos’ own company Blue Origin. Amazon is pumping in billions of dollars in the project, and it would make sense for it to come to India as the market here for internet services is always growing. Notwithstanding the fact that India's data rates are among the lowest in the world, only 43% of India’s population is said to have access to the internet.
Though Musk company may be out of the race, Amazon will find major rivals to tackle in India. For the record, Indian players like Bharti-Airtel owned OneWeb and Tata Group owned Nelco are also keen to make headway in the sector. Further, Jio Platforms and Luxembourg-based SES have also announced a JV to deliver high-performance satellite-based broadband services across India.