New Delhi: Elon Musk’s Starlink has established a wholly-owned unit in India as it prepares to roll out satellite internet services in the world’s second-largest wireless market, according to Starlink’s India Director Sanjay Bhargava.
The new SpaceX subsidiary, Starlink Satellite Communications Pvt., “can now start applying for licenses, open bank accounts” and other steps, Bhargava wrote in a LinkedIn post Monday.
In a separate LinkedIn post last week, he said the unit aimed to work with other broadband providers to improve lives in “aspirational districts.” “At Starlink, we want to serve the underserved,” he wrote.
Sanjay deserves a lot of credit for making X/PayPal succeed. Now helping SpaceX serve rural communities in India. Much respect.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 1, 2021
Starlink will face competition from Indian telecommunications tycoon Sunil Mittal’s OneWeb, which also beams broadband from low-earth orbit satellites. Starlink has deployed more than 1,700 satellites, while OneWeb plans to have 648 satellites by the end of 2022.
India has about 622 million active internet users, according to Kantar consultancy, making it a key growth market as that accounts for less than half of its population. The percentage of the rural population actively accessing the internet is far lower than in urban India, at a little over 30%.
Starlink is planning to have 200,000 connections in India by December next year, of which 80% will be in rural areas, according to a company presentation Bhargava shared on LinkedIn. The first 100 connections will be part of a non-commercial rollout for schools in the capital city of New Delhi and a rural district in the vicinity.- Bloomberg