Can JioFiber compete with Starlink in India? Is not the title interesting enough? Elon Musk’s SpaceX is gearing up with Starlink, a high-speed, low-latency broadband internet that plans to provide connectivity across the globe. But it has a tough competitor in India. Mukesh Ambani’s JioFiber. Both technologies are as different as day and night but they both aim to get you to use their internet connection. But before diving in, let us investigate a bit more about Starlink.
What is StarLink?
StarLink is a venture of the billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk that aims to sell internet connections to almost anyone on the planet by way of a growing network of private satellites orbiting overhead.
Technically a division within SpaceX, Starlink is also the name of the spaceflight company’s growing network — or “constellation” — of orbital satellites. The development of that network began in 2015, with the first prototype satellites launched into orbit in 2018.
In the years since, SpaceX has deployed thousands of StarLink satellites into the constellation across dozens of successful launches, the most recent of which took place on March 3rd and delivered another 47 satellites into low-earth orbit. That brings the total number of functional satellites in the constellation above 2,000, though some of those satellites are prototypes or non-operational units that aren’t functioning parts of the network.
Will StarLink be able to compete with JioFiber in India?
The Internet was a rare luxury in India two decades ago and now the country is one of the biggest consumers of data daily. This phenomenon has not only pushed Indian businesspeople to new boundaries of innovation but is also attracting foreign investors. Reliance Jio brought a 4G revolution in the nation with cheap data plans. Broadband and other high-speed connectivity options still have not been able to penetrate at the same level as 4G. But JioFiber and Starlink have their eyes set on the enormous potential of the market. Let us understand whether or not JioFiber can compete with Starlink in Indian market?
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What technologies do both offer
Fiber-optic broadband connections are already in use in many cities including Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Jio uses Fiber-optics to provide connection. What exactly is Fiber-optic? Fiber optics rely on a network of wires that use glass fibers to transmit packets of data at extremely high speed. Jio Fiber offers speeds of up to 1GBps in India.
However, what makes Starlink stand apart is that, unlike JioFiber, it will be a satellite-based service. It uses satellites in a low orbit to provide its services to a broad range of territory. Users can expect to see download speeds between 100 Mb/s and 200 Mb/s and latency as low as 20ms. Its kit includes a dish antenna, a stand, its power supply and a wifi router.
You can learn everything about satellite internet in this article on Satellite Internet: all you need to know.
Benefits of Fiber Optics
Fiber optics can offer a much more reliable data connection at high speeds. The connection can also offer low latency which translates to better gaming and online tasks. Currently, fiber optics is the only option for users looking for reliable high-speed internet. While the reliability is good, the connection cannot be accessed as easily as Starlink’s satellite internet.
The company needs to set up a physical network to reach more remote areas. The expansion of the network may be the biggest challenge for this kind of technology.
Whereas, Starlink’s satellite internet does not rely on heavy infrastructure. It is ideally suited for areas where connectivity has been unreliable or completely unavailable. SpaceX will be using its expertise in rockets to position the satellites. Apart from that, the user will need to install receivers at locations with the least interruptions.
Cons of Satellite internet
This brings us to the biggest issue of satellite internet. Various elements impact its connectivity. Cloudy skies or storms could hinder connectivity for areas.
While both technologies are completely different, they aim to expand their users in India and rural areas. The launch of StarLink was earlier slated for 2022 but the company is yet to receive its license from the Indian government and the company has even stopped taking pre-orders for the service after it had announced that 5000 bookings were already made.
However, the cost is a major challenge here. Starlink may cost INR 7,300 per month (USD 99) and the Starlink kit will cost INR 37,000 (USD 499), both of which are not affordable for rural consumers. Moreover, cloudy sky affects the satellite broadband.
JioFiber or StarLink?
It remains to be seen how a rural Indian citizen will afford the satellite broadband service, given the lack of awareness in many cases, prohibitive cost, and the lack of perceived need for it. Comparing the service with mobile internet penetration trends can be useful in this case. India has the cheapest mobile internet, the highest per-person usage, and the second-largest number of internet users in the world. As a result, it is important to note that in 2019, the number of rural internet users crossed urban users for the first time.
This indicates that cost is a determining factor for the average rural citizen in making the choice for access. However, for satellite broadband to overcome this barrier, it is important that government policies encourage ongoing efforts of companies like Starlink and OneWeb, along with other innovative approaches by industry players aimed at reducing upfront costs.
Only then perhaps StarLink stands a chance against Jio. Only time will show whether StarLink will be able to compete with JioFiber.
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