SES forges Indian satellite capacity joint venture

by

TAMPA, Fla. — Luxembourg-based SES said Feb. 14 it has formed a joint venture with India’s largest telecoms operator to provide multi-orbit connectivity in the country.

The deal with Jio Platforms Limited, the holding company for Indian mobile operator Jio, aims to sell SES satellite broadband to backhaul, enterprise and retail markets as India eases protectionist measures to encourage foreign investments.

Jio Platforms owns 51% of the Jio Space Technology Limited joint venture and SES holds the rest.

Jio is the joint venture’s anchor customer, and has signed a multiyear capacity purchase agreement through a contract that SES said is worth $100 million. Jio Space Technology Limited is developing gateway infrastructure as part of the plan.

SES said it will provide up to 100 gigabits per second (Gbps) of capacity to the company through its SES-12 satellite in geostationary orbit, and the O3b mPower constellation it expects to start deploying in medium Earth orbit this year.

The joint venture will not provide capacity to certain aeronautical and maritime customers that SES intends to serve separately.

“While we continue to expand our fibre-based connectivity and [fiber-to-the-home] business and invest in 5G, this new joint venture with SES will further accelerate the growth of multigigabit broadband,” Jio director Akash Ambani said in a statement.

“With additional coverage and capacity offered by satellite communications services, Jio will be able to connect the remotest towns and villages, enterprises, government establishments, and consumers to the new Digital India.”

Starlink, OneWeb and other foreign satellite operators have been stepping efforts to get a foothold in India as the country relaxes investment rules.

U.S.-based Hughes Network Systems said Jan. 4 it had created a joint venture with Jio’s Indian telecoms rival Bharti Airtel to sell satellite broadband in the country.

Called Hughes Communications India Pvt Ltd the joint venture said Jan. 20 it had agreed a six-year deal to distribute U.K.-based OneWeb’s low Earth orbit (LEO) capacity in India.

Bharti Airtel’s parent company Bharti Global is OneWeb’s largest investor, and Hughes has also invested in the LEO operator.