Starlink In India

Piyul Patel

Many of us in the urban areas take a lot of things for granted and one of them is a high speed, low latency internet. With the recent launch of Reliance Jio, India’s internet penetration skyrocketed as they provided data at very low costs (initially free). As a result, the data prices went down by a whopping 94% and India became one of the cheapest places to consume data. There are still a lot of areas where there is high latency internet and people in such remote areas find it difficult to connect with other people on the internet. To connect these areas with fibre optic cables doesn't seem to be a very efficient idea. So, for the people in such areas, cellular and satellite internet is their saviour. Satellite internet in India is available to the common people, nevertheless, it is not a widely chosen option as it is expensive and unreliable as the data latency can go up to hundreds of milliseconds.

SpaceX now plans for 5 million Starlink customers in US, up from 1 million  | Ars Technica

Enter Starlink; another groundbreaking project engineered by SpaceX that aims to provide high-speed and low latency satellite internet to places it has never been accessible before, at a reasonable price. A constellation of thousands of next-generation, mass-produced fleet of small internet satellites will be launched into low earth orbit, working in collaboration with the ground receivers. These desk-sized satellites would orbit at 1⁄105 to 1⁄30 of the height of geostationary orbits, and thus offer low latency internet, comparable to existing satellite, cable, and fibre networks. Currently, the service is in its beta phase with around 1000 satellites in the lower orbits of the atmosphere that provides an internet speed of 50Mbps to 150Mbps and an average latency of 42ms which the company expects to lower to 16ms-19ms by summer 2021. But this kind of service is like a luxury especially in its early stage and hence comes at a high cost. The setup cost is about $499 with $99 per month data plans for the connection with no data caps.

The company aims to expand its service to the rest of the world by the end of this year. However, there's still some time for such a service to enter the Indian market as it is a relatively very expensive service not just monetarily but also in terms of infrastructure and policies. The company services will also have to be regulated as per the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) regulations to provide their services in India. ISRO recently floated a draft for a review to the government wherein some of the guidelines bar any non-Indian entity to have the privilege of using satellite-based communications in India. However, TRAI and other Indian government agencies recognize the need for satellite services in the rapid development of the telecom sector. Given that the government agrees to change its policies, Starlink will be able to deliver great broadband services within the foreseeable future. 

In conclusion, Starlink is a great next-generation, high-speed and feasible internet provider and its entry into the Indian market is highly anticipated.



About the Author: Piyul Patel is a Second Year Computer Engineering student at RAIT.