Bharti Airtel, Hughes form joint venture to offer satellite broadband service in India

Bharti Airtel has announced the formation of a joint venture with Hughes Communications India Pvt Ltd (HCIPL), an innovator in satellite and networks to offer satellite broadband services in India.

Hughes will hold a 67 per cent stake in the joint venture, while Airtel will hold a 33 per cent stake. The entity will be known as HCIPL and will combine the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) business of both companies, allowing them to offer scalable enterprise networking solutions. VSAT is a two-way ground station that transmits and receives data from satellites. It is used to provide satellite-based internet and telecom access to individuals and enterprise customers.

This development comes at a time when tech billionaire Elon Musk-led Starlink’s country director for India, Sanjay Bhargava, announced on January 4 that he has stepped down from his post at the satellite internet venture citing personal reasons.

Airtel and Hughes Communications’ agreement was first announced in May 2019, and the company in a press release said that it has received all statutory approvals, including those from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and Department of Telecom (Government of India) and the joint venture has been formed.

“We are pleased to commence this joint venture, further delivering on our commitment to serving 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 has a combined base of over 2 lakh VSATs, making it the largest satellite service operator in the country. “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,” said Ajay Chitkara, director and chief executive officer, Airtel Business.

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