Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio has been making big ticket entries into future-looking tech for some time now. Be it its 5G-ready, Facebook+Google-backed telecom network or its entry into the ecommerce space with JioMart, Reliance literally has a share in almost every sphere of Indian tech market. And today, it is laying foundations for one more.
As per a new filing by the company today, Jio Platforms Ltd., which as we know is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance, has entered into a joint venture with Luxembourg-based SES to “deliver the next generation scalable and affordable broadband services in India leveraging satellite technology,”. Jio Platforms will own 51% in the newly-created Jio Space Technology Ltd., with SES holding the rest.
For those unaware, SES is a Luxembourgish satellite and terrestrial telecommunications network provider, that provides satellite-based audio and video broadcasting facility to a host of companies, globally.
The joint venture “will use multi-orbit space networks,” combining geostationary and medium earth orbit satellite constellations that can deliver multi-gigabit internet capacity to companies, retail users as well as the back-end of wireless networks across India and the neighboring regions, according to the company’s statement.
Jio will be the anchor customer of the joint venture with a “multi-year capacity purchase agreement” at a total contract value of $100 million, it further added in the statement.
Such a venture, though a surprise to many, is perhaps the next logical step for Jio to achieve end-to-end connection within its telecom infra, and subsequent domination of the space. Jio already offered a patchy yet 5G-ready telecom network, has already launched several low-cost devices in partnership with Google, and is working big in the VR/AR space. But all of this needs super fast connectivity, something that many believe can now only be achieved via internet beamed through satellites. And of course Jio wouldn’t depend on others for the same, and hence the JV.
It will be interesting though, to see how this satellite venture is launched. Elon Musk’s Starlink, which started pre-registrations in India long back, was recently asked to refund the amount since it had not taken necessary regulatory approvals. Musk, as usual, termed it as more of a government interference than just regulatory issues. Starlink had plans to have as many as 200K connections in India by December this year.
Airtel’s OneWeb, which had went bankrupt earlier only to be purchased by Airtel for similar purposes, has failed to show any significant progress so far. The company had said in June the company will be offering global broadband services this year with its planned constellation of 648 satellites.