Elon Musk headed SpaceX is planning to join hands with Indian companies to locally manufacture satellite communications
equipment. The company is looking to launch its high speed Starlink satellite broadband service in India next year. Matt Botwin, Director (market access with the starlink program) said, “SpaceX has been working with the Indian industrial sector for a long time. Our company has been buying steel and steel-tubing
for many of its rockets from India and is now committed to manufacture hardware, satellite components and components of satellite broadband networks in the country”.
Indian SATCOM Equipment Market
Satellite communications are the backbone of space industry as more than half of business in space industry results from launching and building communication satellites. Satellite services and applications are the largest in space sector and are a major driver of space technology and developments. Satellite Communication (SATCOM) market is projected to reach USD 30.32 billion by 2022. The SATCOM market is highly fragmented with the presence of a large number of players catering to the increasing demand.
High competition among the industry players leads to product innovation, which attracts more consumers. This, in turn, drives the market growth. Many key players are launching new and advanced SATCOM systems to strengthen its presence in the market. These SATCOM systems can offer better connectivity choices to helicopters, business jet, and airline operators.
The Rise of SATCOM
The Indian SATCOM market has witnessed high growth in recent years owing to the great adoption of SATCOM equipment in telecommunication, space exploration, and telemetry. Furthermore, the increasing fleet of autonomous and connected vehicles is also expected to drive the growth of the market. Additionally, the growing demand for SATCOM solutions in the aviation industry such as the Emirates group is also expected to boost the growth of the market. However, the high cost of development, maintenance and issues related to cybersecurity may hamper the growth of the market.
Companies operating in the Indian SATCOM equipment market are focused on developing technologically advanced equipment for various applications, including telecommunication, automotive, earth observation and scientific research. These companies are also engaged in research activities to develop miniature systems that can perform efficiently in complex environments.
Effects of Satellite Internet on Indian Market
The gears that SpaceX is aiming to manufacture in the country include antenna systems and user terminal devices. This decision has come at a time when Elon Musk’s 74 billion dollar rocket company has begun taking pre-orders of its ambitious high speed internet program “Starlink” in India. This could prove to be a big win for the government’s Make in India push. It will allow India to understand global market opportunities and build a global presence within the satellite segment.
Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had met global companies to discuss local manufacturing of satellite communications gear and ways to create an enabling regulatory regime for global low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation operators to establish in country gateways. SpaceX is already offering a beta version of its Starlink satellite internet service on pre orders. According to the official website of Starlink, the pre-booking service is available to Indian users at a refundable fee of 99 dollars (Rs.7,265). Almost 75 percent of India’s rural population do not have access to broadband since many locations go without cellular or fibre connectivity. Hence, powerful satellite internet systems are being touted as a viable alternative to connect the unconnected.
Perfect Time for New Startups in Satellite Internet Domain
According to the analysts at BIS Research, this is the perfect time for startups in India in the space and satellite domain because in future demand for satellite communications equipment will increase globally. Further, the initiatives taken by the government of India and the favourable policies that are being developed are enabling new players to enter the market. Satellite Internet has the potential to revolutionise the internet, not just in terms of its high speed, but also reach areas with challenging connectivity issues. Satellite Internet is ideally suited for areas of the globe where connectivity has typically been a challenge. Unbounded by traditional ground infrastructure, Satellite Internet can deliver high speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable or completely unavailable.
Factors such as increasing need for uninterrupted communication in various industries and growing fleet of autonomous and connected vehicles have garnered the interest of satellite manufacturers and related players in the satellite industry, subsequently driving the growth of the SATCOM equipment market.
The Satellite Internet will likely to be in the market soon that will offer higher speeds, lower latency, expanded global coverage, and improved end user equipment compared to existing satellite solutions. In some way, the dream of connecting everyone on earth has never been closer. In other ways, it’s hard to tell whether the latest innovative ideas will suffer the same pitfalls as those of the yesteryears.