Satellite Spectrum Showdown: Reliance Jio vs. Bharti Group’s Eutelsat OneWeb


In the vast expanse of India’s technological landscape, a digital battle of epic proportions was brewing between two behemoths: Reliance Jio and the Bharti Group. At the heart of this clash was the utilization of satellite spectrum to deliver internet services to the far-flung corners of the country, where connectivity had long been a distant dream. The stage was set with Reliance Jio championing the cause of fair play, arguing that satellite spectrum for commercial fixed wireless access (FWA) services should only be allocated through auctions, ensuring a level playing field for all players. On the other side stood the Bharti-backed Eutelsat OneWeb, steadfast in their belief that administratively allocated spectrum could indeed be utilized for such services, dismissing Jio’s concerns as mere attempts to obfuscate the issue.

The crux of the matter lay in the interpretation of how satellite spectrum should be harnessed – Jio’s vision was focused on delivering 5G-based FWA services directly to millions of retail users nationwide, while Eutelsat OneWeb had its sights set on catering to remote regions, businesses, government entities, and disaster management operations through a business-to-business model. Eutelsat OneWeb argued that their approach was not in direct competition with Jio, as their target audience and service offerings differed significantly. Their mission was to bridge the digital divide in India’s remote areas, providing connectivity to enterprises, defense forces, healthcare facilities, and disaster response teams. This distinction, they asserted, warranted the use of administratively allocated spectrum rather than subjecting it to auctions. However, Reliance Jio remained resolute in their stance, viewing the situation as an unfair advantage for Eutelsat OneWeb, given the potential market disruption that satellite-based FWA services could bring. They emphasized the need for transparency and equality in spectrum allocation, regardless of the intended use or target audience.

As the debate raged on, both companies saw immense potential and strategic importance in capturing a significant share of the satellite internet market in India. Eutelsat OneWeb aimed to become the foremost global satellite internet provider in the country, while Reliance Jio sought to solidify its position and prevent any encroachment on its territory. The outcome of this clash was not merely a matter of corporate rivalry but had far-reaching implications for India’s digital future. The decision of the Indian government on how to allocate and price commercial satellite spectrum would not only determine the winner of this battle but also shape the trajectory of internet connectivity and innovation in the country for years to come. The stakes were high, and the world watched with bated breath as these technological titans clashed in pursuit of digital supremacy.