Bharti Airtel, which is India’s second-largest telecom company now owns a 45 percent stake in the satellite firm OneWeb. Sunil Mittal (owned Bharti Enterprises) has won the bid to acquire a stake in this bankrupt firm.
OneWeb is a UK based company, headquartered in London. It makes LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellite for satellite-based communication or wireless internet services. The satellites sets in the form of a constellation in low earth orbit.
By this means, high-speed internet, voice, and other communication can be from anywhere in the world.
In March 2020, OneWeb filed bankruptcy when one of their big member SoftBank Group had pulled all investments. Now, OneWeb’s 45 percent stake is with the UK Government, another 45 percent is with Bharti Global, and the rest 10 percent is old investors.
Bharti Global will invest $500 Million and The UK government will also invest $500 Million, which makes a total of $1 Billion investment. The UK government is planning to use these satellites as a Navigation system for the country. After Brexit, UK is out of the Galileo satellite project.
OneWeb targets to deploy 648 satellites at an altitude of 1200 km by 2021. All satellite will cover every region/part of the globe. So no matter where you are, you will get global connectivity with help of satellite.
In India, we have large connectivity through cable and mobile towers, but still, many areas lack this. Especially rural areas are the major sufferers. And in some parts getting connectivity is difficult, for example – Deep forest, middle of sea or ocean, Desert, etc.
To sort this problem satellite connectivity is a good option all time. The satellite for the internet and for other connectivity is already in use in various areas with the GEO satellite.
GEO satellite lives around 35,000 km away from the earth resulting in low internet bandwidth and high latency. whereas, LEO satellite works at 1200 km from earth, which helps to attain high bandwidth and low latency. This also makes the LEO satellite less costly than GEO.
If Bharti Airtel with OneWeb created the satellite constellation for India. People can access the internet from anywhere means anywhere, around the country. The LEO satellite for internet concept is a powerful way for connectivity after cables and towers.
If the satellite constellation covered the whole earth, internet connectivity will not be an issue, whether it’s an arctic or Antarctic.
India could become a great market for satellite internet. Launching a satellite is not an easy or cheap task, here ISRO can help Bharti Mittal in future plans. As we all and the world know the achievements of ISRO in the space program.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is also working on the Starlink program, a satellite-based internet service. And they have already started the public beta testing. SpaceX invited some users for testing purposes.
Starlink’s expected speed will be between 50 Mb/s to 150 Mb/s with 20ms to 40ms latency. All users have to purchase Starlink ground equipment for $499 and then pay a $99 monthly fee for active service.
Amazon Kuiper program is another name on the list of satellite internet service. Near future, we may see lots of satellite roaming over our head to provide high-speed internet. The race has begun.
Half stake in OneWeb, how it will impact Bharti Airtel in long term, this is a later part story.