OneWeb is part of the India vision: Sunil Mittal

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 01, 2021

Sunil Bharti Mittal

Mobile tariffs need to go up and Airtel will not hesitate: Chairman of Bharti Enterprises

Bharti Enterprises-backed OneWeb on Thursday said its planned fleet of 648 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites that will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity would make global service available by May next, including in India.

The satellite services will help connectivity in marine vessels, in-flight connectivity and complement with broadband and BharatNet projects of the government to reach up to the remotest areas of the country, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises and Executive Chairman of OneWeb, told reporters here.

He said the company is awaiting licences from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). The company is also making two ground stations one each in North India and South India.

“Identification of the lands have been made. We are now waiting for the licences from DoT and Department of Space, ISRO for permission for our landing rights for the bandwidth and use of spectrum. All talks are in advanced stages,” Mittal told reporters during a virtual meeting.

“OneWeb is part of the India vision, it’s not outside the India vision and we will really benefit from it tremendously. And that's why if you heard the Prime Minister, he suddenly opened up the floodgates of space industry to private industry to come join us. He has been talking about flying apples from Himachal Pradesh directly to the mandis and that can only be done if you have remote satellite broadband connectivity,” he said.

OneWeb, on Thursday successfully launched another 36 satellites to mark the completion of its ‘Five to 50’ mission. With this major milestone, the company is on the way to deliver connectivity across the UK, Canada, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, and the Arctic Region.

The completion of the latest launch will take OneWeb’s in-orbit constellation to 254 satellites, or 40 per cent of its planned fleet of 648 LEO satellites that will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity.

Meanwhile, on telecom services, Mittal said the industry is under “tremendous stress” and hoped the government will ensure that India's digital dream remains intact through the provision of at least three operators.

He acknowledged that telecom tariffs need to go up and that Airtel would “not hesitate" in this regard. Having said that he also said that it cannot be done "unilaterally".

“To say telecom industry is in a bit of trouble is actually an understatement. It is in a tremendous amount of stress. I hope the government, the authorities, and DoT focus on this issue and ensure India's digital dream remains intact through the provision of at least three operators," Bharti Airtel Chairman Mittal said.

Mittal said Airtel had raised funds timely and adequately, through equity and bonds, and asserted that the company is strongly positioned to serve the market in coming years.

He said that the last five-six years had been brutal and pointed out that the results are for all to see. “Ten operators gone out of business, two merged together...gasping for breath right now. How long can you keep on killing each other? The point is when you have a return on capital, even by the best operator, at low single-digit and most of them struggling,” he said

“Raising tariffs always sounds bad...just bring it back to where it was...enjoy 15 times consumption, but at least come back to old tariffs,” Mittal said adding that the industry needs to be healthy for embarking on 5G services, and to deliver on India's digital dream,

Published on July 01, 2021

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