Starling, a satellite-based internet service operated by Elon Muskin’s SpaceX, is set to go live in India with a focus on ten rural constituencies, a company executive has revealed. SpareX aims to provide high-speed Internet access to remote areas using a cluster of satellites under Starling. The Hawthorne, California-based company plans to offer its service “close to global coverage” by 2021. It considers India as one of the key potential markets to develop this service in the near future.
Sanjay Bhargava, Country Director for Starling in India, said on LinkedIn that SpaceX would focus on ten rural Lok Sabha constituencies for 80 per cent of terminals sent to the country. He also mentioned the plan to meet with legislators, ministers and officials to “see if they think it will help improve broadband life 100 percent.”
Bargawa joined SpaceX last week to oversee Starling’s business.
“The number of pre-orders from rural constituencies will be a factor in selecting the constituencies to focus on,” he said.
Launched in February 2018, Starling currently has 1,600 satellites that provide high-speed Internet access. It is a beta test link in 14 regions including Australia, Canada, Chile, Portugal, UK and USA.
Bargawa said Starling aims to have 200,000 terminals operational in India by December 2022. He added that 5,000 terminals have already been pre-ordered in the country.
Each of these terminals communicates with a designated Low Orbit Earth (LEO) satellite to provide Internet access without the need for a fixed line connection.
Bhargava said a clear guide to Starling in India would be available in November. Last month, however, Elon Musk teased the post on Twitter, saying that regulatory approval for Starling in India was ongoing.
During the beta trial phase, Starling is available to customers on a priority list for $ 99 (approximately Rs. 7,400). It is said to have a delay rate of between 20-40 milliseconds and speeds vary from 50Mbps to 150Mbps.
With the arrival of Starling India, traditional internet service providers including Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio may face a tough fight. The release may also affect the growth of state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nikam Limited (BSNL), which has a strong presence in rural India.