Bharti Airtel, India’s top mobile phone company by subscribers, plans to offer high speed internet services through satellite broadband, two persons familiar with the development told DNA.
Satellite broadband enables internet download speed of 2mbps and is based on very small aperture terminal (VSAT) KU and C Bands of satellite communication. While KU Band is usually used for North America and Europe, C-Band is used in Asia Pacific. C-Band uses 3.7-4.2GHz for downlink and 5.925-6.425 Ghz for uplink.
As per the plan, Bharti will offer the services in about 25 cities and towns, which have a concentration of high-rise buildings, small and medium businesses and commercial establishments.
A Bharti spokesperson denied any such plan.
A source, however, said the company has appointed a consulting firm to advise on the go-to-market strategy and conduct necessary market research.
The satellite broadband market has hitherto been limited to e-governance projects and commercial establishments. The dominant players in the segment are Bharti, BSNL and HCL Comnet, with market shares of 31%, 30% and 25%, respectively.
Bharti had first introduced satellite broadband services in Gujarat in 2008 to connect village panchayats under an e-governance project.
Observers say it makes sense for telcos to invest in satellite broadband given that extra spectrum is still not made available.
“Even if we assume that 3G and WiMax are already there, providing internet access through satellite broadband seems an economical approach. 3G and WiMax would be targeted first at high revenue paying population, like it was first done in case of voice services,” a telecom sector expert said.
However, there would still be pockets of densely populated areas with a capability to provide higher revenue, which would need high incremental investments. “This is the reason options such as satellite broadband, which does not need much investment, are effective,” the expert said.