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Satellites have evolved from being a vanilla backhaul system to becoming a base station in the sky and the co-existence of satellite communications with other mobile technologies is now a reality, Reliance Jio President Mathew Oommen has said.

Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the seventh India Mobile Congress (IMC), he said Reliance Jio, moving beyond traditional terrestrial spectrum, had become a non-terrestrial network player and was way ahead of competition.

While satellites have historically been used for backhaul services, satellite spectrum has begun serving the same devices and customers as that of terrestrial spectrum over the past two years, Oommen pointed out.

In contrast to OneWeb and Starlink that use low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites for connectivity, Jio has tied up with SES to provide medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellite Internet. The company has connected four remote locations with JioSpaceFiber — Gir in Gujarat, Korba in Chattisgarh, Nabarangpur in Odisha, and Jorhat in Assam, using the spectrum on trial.

With regard to its satellite broadband services, Jio will be deploying 5G outdoor small cell devices (ODSD), which is a smaller 5G base station device costing $800-900. The 5G cell will be used to connect to the satellite to provide Internet to uncovered areas with good speeds.

“Satellite as a backhaul with our own 5G ODSD and gateway that is the secret sauce,” Oommen said, adding that the pricing of the services will be set keeping in mind the affordability of consumers and it will be different from enterprises.

CT Bureau

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