Indian telco Reliance Jio Infocomm demonstrated its satellite broadband service JioSpaceFiber at India Mobile Congress on Friday, claiming it’s the first satellite-based gigabit service in India.
Jio is planning the broadband satellite service in partnership with SES, which owns the O3b constellation of medium earth orbit (MEO) satellites. O3b’s constellation of 20 satellites are designed to deliver gigabit-level connections capable of rivalling terrestrial fiber broadband connections. Its latest-generation O3b mPOWER satellites are designed to scale to multiple gigabits per second, which is ten times more than the original generation.
SES has launched four O3b mPOWER satellites to date, but has delayed further launches since August as it investigates a reported glitch in the satellites that’s tripping off power modules from time to time, according to Space News. SES still plans to launch services for mPOWER by the end of this year.
Jio is adding JioSpaceFiber to its broadband services portfolio, which includes fixed-line broadband (JioFiber) and fixed wireless access (JioAirFiber), to extend its reach to unserved areas in India.
“Jio has enabled millions of homes and businesses in India to experience broadband internet for the first time. With JioSpaceFiber, we expand our reach to cover the millions yet to be connected,” said Reliance Jio Infocomm chair Akash Ambani in a statement.
Jio said it will also use O3b for additional capacity for mobile backhaul to enhance the availability and scale of Jio True5G in remote parts of India.
The operator said that its already connected JioSpaceFiber in four of the most remote locations in India: Gir Gujarat, Korba Chattisgarh, Nabrangpur Odissa and ONGC-Jorhat Assam. Those locations will serve as pilots ahead of a planned commercial service launch in 2024.
However, the timing may also depend on when and how the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will make spectrum available for commercial broadband satellite services in India.
New LEO satellite operators like OneWeb, Starlink and Amazon’s Project Kuiper are keen to enter India’s satellite broadband space, but there is heated debate on whether broadband satellite spectrum should be allocated by an administrative process or via an auction. The DoT and telecoms regulator TRAI are exploring the issue but have yet to make a final decision.