Two decades after introducing mobile telephony services in India, Sunil Mittal is now on a new trajectory to connect the next billion users through a constellation of satellites.
Mittal-owned Bharti Enterprises has bid for a 45 percent stake in OneWeb, a UK company that has proposed a mega-constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit to deliver affordable wireless Internet services anywhere in the world.
Bharti Enterprises will invest $ 500 million in OneWeb.
“The OneWeb platform will help reduce the digital divide by providing high-speed, low-latency broadband access to poor and difficult rural areas. A low-Earth orbit constellation is the only viable mechanism through which the ‘last billion’ can be linked. “As one of the largest telecom operators in India and Africa, I know that it can be a powerful social and economic promoter,” Mittal said in a statement. The talks were led by his son Shravan Bharti Mittal.
Business Bharti Enterprises’ bid first emerged on top after the auction on Thursday. The bid was made in partnership with the UK government, which will invest $ 500 million for a 45 per cent stake in OneWeb. The current shareholders in the company – including Hughes, Qualcomm and Virgin Group – will hold the remaining 10 percent.
Bharti Airtel will serve as a testing ground for all OneWeb products, services and applications. Its network throughout South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, where the region requires the use of satellite-based connectivity, will provide a proximate anchor customer for the global deployment of OneWeb’s services. “These low-orbit satellites can act like cellular towers, but in the sky. Instead of erecting hundreds of towers to cover an area, Mittal would be able to cover the same area, ”said an industry expert.
In the first phase, the company will launch 650 satellites and later 1,980 satellites. Low-orbit satellites operate 1,200 km above the Earth’s surface.
OneWeb has proposed a mega-constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit to provide affordable wireless Internet services anywhere in the world.