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Hughes, Airtel JV cleared to provide satellite broadband in India

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Hughes Network Systems and Bharti Airtel have formed a JV to combine their VSAT operations to provide satellite broadband services in India.

The new enterprise, HCIPL, combines the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) businesses of both companies – a combined base of over 200,000 – to offer flexible and scalable enterprise networking solutions using satellite connectivity for primary transport, back-up and hybrid implementation.

"We are pleased to commence this joint venture, further delivering on our commitment to serve the growing demand for always on, always available network connectivity for enterprise and government customers," said Partho Banerjee, president and managing director, HCIPL. "Combining the proven capabilities of both Hughes and Airtel, the partnership will bring synergies to the forefront – including multi-orbit solutions – for the benefit of customers across the length and breadth of India."

The JV dates back to 2019 but has now received all statutory approvals, including those from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and Department of Telecom (Government of India).

HCIPL has claimed the title of India's largest satellite service operator and will provide business and government customers with broadband networking technologies, solutions and services, including a full range of managed network services. Target segments include banking, aeronautical and maritime mobility, small to medium sized businesses, education, and telecom backhaul, among others.

Ajay Chitkara, director and chief executive officer, Airtel Business, said: "We, at Airtel, are focused on supporting and accelerating the digital transformation journeys of our customers through an integrated solutions portfolio. With the combined capabilities of Airtel and Hughes, customers will get access to next generation satellite connectivity backed by proven enterprise grade security and service support."

The news broke within days of the Indian government instructing Starlink to refund all its pre-orders for satellite internet services – aka Starlink – in the country.

The company registered its business in India at the start of November and has already received more than 5,000 pre-orders for devices in India despite struggling to receive a commercial license to operate in the country.

 

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