Bharti-backed OneWeb collaborates with Hughes to offer satellite internet in India

OneWeb's internet satellites being put into orbit from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
(Image credit: OneWeb)

Bharti-backed low earth orbit satellite internet company OneWeb has announced that it has signed a 6-year agreement with Hughes Communications India Pvt Ltd (HCIPL) to distribute its internet services in the country.

The company is said to start offering satellite-based internet services in India by mid-2022 and will offer high-speed internet connectivity to remote villages and locations where wired connectivity isn’t feasible.

The company, in a prepared statement, said that it will “offer high-speed, low-latency satellite broadband solutions and contribute to the Digital India vision”. The company feels that its vision of connecting villages and hard to reach locations will help bridge India’s digital divide.

“OneWeb will invest in setting up enabling infrastructure such as Gateways and PoPs in India to light up the services," said Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb commented.

Could become the first company to beam internet connection in India

The announcement came at a time when OneWeb’s competitors like Starlink, Amazon’s Project Kuiper and others are vying for an entry into the Indian market. Among these, Starlink is specifically facing a hard time in the country. It had already started accepting pre-orders for its services via its website in India and had over 7000 users looking to get access to Starlink’s Beta program.

However, the Indian ministry of Telecom called its operations illegal as Starlink did not have a registered entity in India. It also asked the company to refund the pre-booking amount to all existing customers as well as stop accepting any more pre-orders. While Starlink has maintained that it is following the process of applying for the requisite licenses, its India head Sanjay Bhargava has already stepped down.

OneWeb, on the other hand, has added more satellites to its constellation taking its tally of satellites to 394. The company aims to have a fleet of 648 low earth orbiting satellites that will beam high-speed, low-latency global connectivity.  

The company has also steadily progressed towards offering its services in the country with the assistance of Hughes Communications India Pvt Ltd (HCIPL) – which is developing the core module that will be power every user terminal.

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Jitendra Soni

Jitendra has been working in the Internet Industry for the last 7 years now and has written about a wide range of topics including gadgets, smartphones, reviews, games, software, apps, deep tech, AI, and consumer electronics.