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India can overtake others in space sector: Inmarsat CEO

Speaking at the NASSCOM Technology and Leadership Forum, on Friday, Inmarsat CEO Rajeev Suri said that India has an opportunity to overtake other countries by using satellite communications to enable the industrial internet of things (IoT).

“This opportunity could be an enabler for greater productivity in the decades to come. Pproviding a complete and reliable connectivity for devices and machines is a huge opportunity around the world, especially in India with so many people in such a vast expanse of territory,” Suri said.

“Money is coming into the space sector quite fast,” Suri added. “Venture capital coming into space companies in 2021 was the fastest ever at $70.1 billion. That is close to a 90% increase from the previous record just a year before. If you assume that growth continues five years after that, which I believe it will, the outcome will be a radical leap from where we are today. For many rural areas in the world’s remote regions, the business case for fixed terrestrial, or even mobile terrestrial coverage is just a non-starter. If you think about the cost and complexity of bringing terrestrial fiber to a remote village, I believe that in many cases, satellite coverage would be a downright bargain. So it’s much more economical to do satellite,” Suri said.

But cost is an issue for all types of connectivity and it is vital to continue reducing the cost per bit, he said.

“Relying solely on LEO satellites to deliver connectivity would require massive investment and also cause major environmental concerns,” the Inmarsat chief said. “Hybrid networks using GEO, LEO, and terrestrial 5G could be a simpler and more efficient way to meet customer needs. For instance, when in an aircraft, you don’t need online gaming, but might want high-speed connectivity but not low latency. In maritime operations, if there is a lot of network congestion and you don’t have enough bandwidth or capacity through GEO satellites, you can use 5G hotspots for this. LEOs would suit other areas, too.”

CT Bureau

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