Jio Platforms/SES

Jio and SES forge joint venture for satellite-based broadband services across India

Joint venture between satellite operator SES and Indian mobile network operator Jio aims to extend network reach and resiliency by using satellites in geostationary and medium Earth orbits, including O3b mPOWER

In the latest of a series of developments that have seen the space connectivity sector gain higher orbit, leading Indian service provider Jio Platforms (JPL) has announced a joint venture with satellite operator SES to deliver what they say will be the next generation of scalable and affordable broadband services in India using satellite technology.

Explaining the rationale for the venture, the firms noted that, as Covid-19 has demonstrated, access to broadband is imperative for full participation in the new digital economy. The joint venture is intended to be a “catalyst” for connecting the unconnected areas within India and the region to the full range of digital services, offering access to remote health, government services and distance learning opportunities.

JPL and SES will own 51% and 49% equity stake respectively in the newly formed Jio Space Technology Limited and will use multi-orbit space networks, that is a combination of geostationary (GEO) and medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellite constellations capable of delivering multi-gigabit links and capacity to enterprises, mobile backhaul and retail customers across the length and breadth of India and neighbouring regions.

The joint venture will be based on SES-12, SES’s high-throughput GEO satellite serving India, and O3b mPOWER, SES’s next-generation MEO constellation, to extend and complement Jio’s terrestrial network, increasing access to digital services and applications. Jio will offer managed services and gateway infrastructure operations services to the joint venture.

The service will have availability of up to 100Gbps capacity from SES and will use Jio’s position and sales reach in India to unlock market opportunities. As part of the investment plan, the joint venture will develop gateway infrastructure in India to provide services across the country. Jio, as an anchor customer of the joint venture, has entered into a multi-year capacity purchase agreement, based on certain milestones, along with gateways and equipment purchase, with a total contract value of around US$100m.

“While we continue to expand our fibre-based connectivity and FTTH [fibre to the home] business and invest in 5G, this new joint venture with SES will further accelerate the growth of multigigabit broadband,” remarked Jio director Akash Ambani.

“With additional coverage and capacity offered by satellite communications services, Jio will be able to connect the remotest towns and villages, enterprises, government establishments and consumers to the new ‘Digital India’. We are excited about this new journey combining our massive reach and customer base with SES’s innovative leadership and expertise in the satellite industry.”

The formation of Jio Space Technology Limited is also designed to accelerate the achievement of the Connect India goals in the 2018 National Digital Communications Policy and the Digital India programme by expanding broadband connectivity to Indian citizens across the country. It will additionally be the vehicle for providing SES’s satellite data and connectivity services in India, except for certain international aeronautical and maritime customers that may be served by SES.

“This joint venture with JPL is a great example of how SES can complement even the most extensive terrestrial networks to deliver high-quality connectivity and positively affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people,” said SES CEO Steve Collar. “We look forward to this joint venture whereby we can play a role in promoting digital inclusion in India.”

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