Reliance Jio partners with a European firm to provide satellite-based broadband

India’s largest private firm, Reliance Industries (RIL), has now forayed into the satellite broadband market, the company announced today (Feb. 14). Jio Platforms, RIL’s whole-owned subsidiary, will enter into a joint venture (JV) with the Luxembourg-based satellite services provider, SES, to deliver “affordable” broadband services in the new JV.

“The joint venture will be the vehicle for providing SES’s satellite data and connectivity services in India, except for certain international aeronautical and maritime customers who may be served by SES,” Jio said in a statement. “It will have availability of up to 100 Gbps capacity from SES and will leverage Jio’s premiere position and sales reach in India to unlock this market opportunity.”

Reliance Jio’s total broadband user base includes over 430 million subscribers across the country.

What SES deal will bring to Reliance Jio

Listing its investment plans, Reliance also said Jio, as an anchor customer of the JV, has entered into a “multi-year capacity purchase agreement, based on certain milestones, along with gateways and equipment purchase with a total contract value of circa $100 million.”

The company also said in its press release that it will leverage SES’s high-throughput GEO satellite serving India to extend and complement Jio’s terrestrial network, increasing access to digital services and applications.

“Jio will offer managed services and gateway infrastructure operations services to the joint venture,” it said.

Speaking on the new partnership, Akash Ambani, director of Jio, said, “While we continue to expand our fibre-based connectivity and FTTH (fibre-to-the-home) business and invest in 5G, this new joint venture with SES will further accelerate the growth of multigigabit broadband.”

Reliance Jio versus Elon Musk’s Starlink

Jio’s announcement has come at a time when Elon Musk’s Starlink is struggling to make its India debut. SpaceX was planning to launch its service, Starlink, in December 2022 but that seems unlikely now.

Despite having started taking pre-orders in India last year, the future of the US-based company is still uncertain. Its efforts faced a hurdle last year after the Narendra Modi government intervened in the matter of licensing. The development forced Musk’s company to halt its market launch.

Starlink then had to refund the pre-order money to interested users.

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