HomeIndustryBusinessBattle of billionaires: Musk's Starlink eyes India, Ambani resists

Battle of billionaires: Musk’s Starlink eyes India, Ambani resists

Elon Musk is expressing his eagerness to bring his satellite broadband service, Starlink, to India. However, he faces resistance from Mukesh Ambani, the head of Indian telecom giant Reliance Jio and Asia’s wealthiest individual. The two billionaires are at odds over the government’s distribution of satellite broadband spectrum, setting the stage for a battle for satellite services in India.

Musk, following a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, emphasized the potential of Starlink in providing internet access to remote villages lacking connectivity. However, he did not address the conflict with Reliance over the distribution of satellite broadband spectrum.

Starlink is advocating for the spectrum to be assigned to companies instead of being auctioned, aligning with a global trend. The company argues that the spectrum is a natural resource that should be shared among companies and that an auction could impose geographical restrictions and increase costs.

On the other hand, Reliance is in favor of an auction and has made a public submission to the government supporting this approach. The company believes that foreign satellite service providers should compete with traditional telecom players and that an auction would ensure a level playing field.

Reliance intends to continue urging the Indian government to conduct an auction for satellite spectrum, demonstrating the deepening rivalry between the two companies.

For Musk, entering the Indian market with Starlink is crucial. A previous attempt in 2021 faced regulatory hurdles for accepting bookings without a license. Additionally, Musk is currently in talks with India to establish a Tesla factory.

For Ambani, preventing foreign competition in satellite broadband would be another achievement, as Reliance Jio already holds a significant market share in the telecommunications industry with millions of users and wired broadband connections.

Starlink’s stance on auctions is shared by Amazon’s Project Kuiper and the British government-supported initiative, OneWeb.

Amazon declined to comment on the matter, while the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, OneWeb, and SpaceX (Starlink’s parent company) did not provide a response.

Reliance referred Reuters to its own and Starlink’s government submissions when requested for comment.

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