Starlink, the satellite-based Internet service operated by Elon Musk's SpaceX, is set to go live in India by focussing on ten rural Lok Sabha constituencies, a company's executive revealed. SpaceX aims to provide high-speed Internet access in remote areas using a constellation of satellites under Starlink. The Hawthorne, California-based company is projecting to offer “near global coverage” of its service in 2021. It is considering India amongst the key potential markets to grow the service in the coming future.
Country Director for Starlink in India Sanjay Bhargava said in a LinkedIn post that SpaceX would focus on ten rural Lok Sabha constituencies for 80 percent of terminals shipped to the country. He also indicated plans to meet with legislators, ministers, and bureaucrats “to see if they think 100 percent broadband would help improve lives.”
Bhargava joined SpaceX last week to oversee Starlink's business in the country.
“The number of pre-orders from rural constituencies will be one factor that helps us select focus constituencies,” he said.
First launched in February 2018, Starlink currently has over 1,600 satellites that help provide high-speed Internet. It is beta testing connectivity in 14 regions including Australia, Canada, Chile, Portugal, the UK, and US, among others.
Starlink aims to have 200,000 terminals active in India by December 2022, Bhargava stated. He also claimed that over 5,000 terminals have already been pre-ordered in the country.
Each of these terminals communicates with a designated low-orbit Earth (LEO) satellite to provide Internet access, without requiring a fixed line connection.
Bhargava said that a clear roadmap for Starlink in India would be available in November. However, last month, Elon Musk teased the launch on Twitter by asserting that regulatory approval for Starlink in India is underway.
In the beta testing phase, Starlink is available to customers through a priority list for which it charges $99 (roughly Rs. 7,400). It is claimed to have a latency rate between 20–40 milliseconds and speeds vary from 50Mbps to 150Mbps.
The arrival of Starlink in India could give a tough fight to traditional Internet service providers including Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio. The launch could also impact the growth of state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) that has a strong presence in rural India.
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