SpaceX’s India Country Director Sanjay Bhargava shared that the company aims to provide internet service in rural areas next year. Bhargava joined the Starlink team this month, he has previously worked with SpaceX founder Elon Musk. –“Super excited to join Space X effective Oct 1, 2021 as Starlink Country Director India. Had worked with Elon Musk on the PayPal founding team. Have been in India since 2004 and Starlink and I share a common passion for supporting a transformed India starting with Rural India,” Bhargava shared via a LinkedIn post.
SpaceX will initially focus on connecting 10 rural Lok Sabha constituencies, according to Bhargava. The company will apply with the Government of India (GOI) for a license to operate the satellite broadband services in the country and plans to send 200,000 Starlink dish antenna terminals for India customers before December 2022. “In October I am also keen to have 30-minute virtual conversations with MP's, Ministers, secretaries to GOI, or principal secretaries to states to see if they think 100% broadband would help improve lives,” Bhargava wrote, “We will probably focus on ten rural Lok Sabha constituencies for 80% of the Starlink terminals shipped to India. The number of preorders from rural constituencies will be one factor that helps us select focus constituencies,” he stated.
SpaceX operates a broadband constellation of nearly 1,800 satellites in space that already beams internet to over 100,000 customers across 16 countries. The company already surpassed over half-a-million service pre-orders. A bit over 5,000 Starlink pre-orders are from customers who reside in India. They are providing service to select-customers based on coverage capacity and on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. SpaceX is accepting pre-orders via Starlink.com.
Bhargava emphasized in a series of LinkedIn posts that Starlink is still pending regulatory approval in the country. They plan to first pitch a pilot program for rural regions before rolling out internet service across the country. “Politicians and bureaucrats interested in working with Starlink and other broadband providers are welcome to contact me,” he wrote. India is expected to be a huge broadband market opportunity for SpaceX because nearly 75% of rural India does not have access to internet, nor mobile service. SpaceX could tap into a new market and help people have access to the important telecommunications utility that has defined the 21st Century.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX