Multiple players target Latin American and Indian satellite internet markets

Multiple players target Latin American and Indian satellite internet markets

Recent satellite internet news coming out of Latin America and India is a reminder that Starlink isn’t having things entirely its own way when it comes to satellite internet.

Amazon and telecommunications firm Vrio have announced plans to jointly launch a satellite internet service in seven South American countries. Vrio manages the Latin American branch of American multichannel video programming distributor DirecTV as well as direct broadcast satellite company Sky Brasil. 

The partners will offer the service to customers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.

Reuters reports that Amazon's satellite subsidiary Project Kuiper will provide internet using satellites in low Earth orbit. The service is set to come online in mid-2025, starting in Argentina.

Project Kuiper as a whole will eventually involve 3,236 satellites and an estimated US$10 billion of investment to provide broadband internet access across the globe.

Meanwhile, a joint venture between technology firm Jio Platforms, part of Indian multinational conglomerate Reliance Industries, along with satellite telecommunications network provider SES, has won approval from the Indian space regulator IN-SPACe to operate satellites in India. The joint operation, called Orbit Connect India, aims to provide gigabit fibre internet.

Reuters notes that, although the new company is now approved to operate satellites above India, the country’s department of telecoms (DoT) will need to give its approval before Orbit Connect India begins operations.

The company joins Inmarsat and OneWeb as approved groups, while Starlink and Project Kuiper are awaiting approvals. Other companies are also hoping to benefit from the government’s desire to encourage the growth of India's space industry.

As for the market, Lucas Werthein, vice president of Vrio, has been quoted as highlighting the likely advantages of satellite communications to hundreds of millions of people with poor, little or no internet access, and as a way of overcoming the challenge of difficult terrain. 

He’s by no means alone in implying that such factors could drive a potential market. But finding pricing plans that will benefit operators and attract less well-off end users could still be a challenge.

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