Reliance Jio has tested its satellite internet service, JioSpaceFiber, in four of the “remotest” districts in India, the company announced on Friday. Jio is one of the only two firms with a Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite (GMPCS) license from the Department of Telecommunications, the other being Bharti Airtel Ltd and the United Kingdom government’s OneWeb joint venture, which merged with the French firm Eutelsat last month.
Jio announced its tests at the India Mobile Congress (IMC) underway in New Delhi.
Jio said in a statement that it would make its satellite internet “affordable,” and that it would use it to boost mobile data backhaul in places where fiber isn’t easy to connect to 5G cell towers with its larger network. Jio says it will provide high speed gigabit internet to users across the country, but it is not clear what the total bandwidth it has access to is. As more and more users join, bandwidth available to each individual user would decrease due to the inherent limitations of satellite internet.
The tests have happened in Nabarangpur district in Odisha, Gir in Gujarat, Korba in Chhattisgarh, and Jorhat in Assam, the company said. Jio used satellite technology from SES S.A., a Luxembourgish firm that specialises in space connectivity.
JioSpaceFiber is to be added to the company’s lineup of broadband services, which include JioFiber and JioAirFiber. The satellite network also aims to support the expansion of Jio True5G across India.
Competing firms have largely not yet received GMPCS licenses. While SpaceX’s Starlink constellation can cover India, it does not yet have a license to serve consumers in India, over a year after it submitted its application, according to a response to a Right to Information application filed by The Hindu.
Amazon, Inc.’s Project Kuiper also applied for a GMPCS license this month, the DoT’s response said. BSNL has a satellite internet license already, as it has used the technology for several years to provide backhaul connectivity in Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.