In locations as expansive as India, service providers such as Skylink Internet make it a mission to provide reliable internet.
Starlink is yet to get approval to offer satellite internet services in India. Speed tests in similar areas show Starlink’s steady 100Mbps download and 20-30Mbps upload speed.
While it does face steep competition, Starlink’s approval will increase India’s satellite internet providers to three, alongside OneWeb and Reliance Jio Satellite.
In the meantime, Skylink Internet service provides broadband internet between 50 Mbps and 1 Gbps download and upload speeds.
Can Starlink succeed in India? Let’s break it down.
Is Starlink Available in India?
In 2022, Starlink applied for a Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite (GMPCS) license. The license allows Starlink to deploy its satellite internet service in India.
Currently, Starlink does not cover India. If accepted, the application could double Starlink’s subscriber count, given that India’s rural population reached 908,804,812 in 2022.
Starlink only has 1.5 million subscribers globally. However, inclusion in sub-continents as big as India could greatly boost the service.
Starlink seemed optimistic, going as far as opening pre-booking channels in 2021.
Starlink’s entry into India’s internet provision would boost the 65% of the Indian population living in rural areas.
While other providers are already in the country, Starlink’s speeds and payment plans have greatly succeeded in South America, Canada, Australia, and Africa.
According to reports, Starlink has successfully done the following;
- They have provided information on satellite location
- They have provided information about data transfer and storage.
- They have outlined their strategy for offering broadband services in India.
India’s regulator(Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) is yet to issue a spectrum from which Starlink can operate.
How Does Skylink Compare to Starlink In India?
Wireless internet access in rural India
Skylink Internet is a broadband internet subscription service based in Coimbatore, India. The district has a population of 1.5 million, rivaling Starlink’s total subscriber count globally.
Skylink’s speeds beat Starlink’s speeds once you cross the 200Mbps threshold. Unlike Starlink, which offers between 100-200 Mbps download speeds, Skylink In India surpasses the 300 Mbps limit and offers plans up to 1 Gbps for download and upload speeds.
However, Skylink also has 50 and 75 Mbps plans, providing the same download and upload speed.
Skylink also beats Stalink in upload speeds. While Skylink matches its upload and download speeds, Starlink offers between 5 and 20 Mbps upload speed.
The average latency for most broadband internet services is below 2ms, making it preferable in big cities with bigger populations. The theoretical latency of a service such as Skylink in India would be around 2ms.
Compared to Starlink, Starlink subscribers would get longer latency periods and obvious lags.
Starlink has a 20-40ms average latency. Sure, it’s impressive for a satellite provider. However, it would struggle to compete with a broadband service such as Skylink.
Skylink guarantees it has 24/7 support to serve its clientele. They have multiple lines open for subscribers to raise any issues. Subscribers can reach the service through calls, live support, chatbots, or email.
However, Starlink uses a ticket-based customer support system. You raise a ticket on the company’s app or website and expect a response within 72 hours.
Many subscribers have complained about the lack of a faster approach. Also, users have indicated they would like Starlink to have live agents to solve complex issues.
Technician laying cables for broadband internet
Skylink Internet provides modems, wiring, and professional installation for their customers. On the other hand, Starlink provides the standard kit (dish, router, cables, and mount).
Afterward, you can hire professional technicians to set up Starlink or install it yourself.
Fortunately, it’s not too challenging since Starlink provides guides in the kit.
Skylink and Starlink are vastly different services in infrastructure, deployment and coverage.
Skylink is a broadband internet service provider in Coimbatore, Erode, and Tiruppur – all Indian cities – with 42,000 active subscribers.
On the other hand, Starlink is a global satellite internet provider with 1.5 million subscribers. It has not been deployed in India yet.
However, it might cover a larger section of India than Skylink, making it more dominant even in Skylink’s main cities.
Skylink has several plans that appeal to most of its subscribers.
Skylink’s starter plan, Bronze 499, offers 50 Mbps download and upload speeds. However, it comes with Skylink Voice, Skylink TV, Disney Hotstar, and 350 TV channels.
This model resembles the Bronze Plus(75 Mbps) and Silver 699(100 Mbps) plans. Users can add voice calling and 650 TV channels for about $1.20(99 Rupees).
Skylink’s other plans include Platinum 1299, which gives users 300 Mbps download and upload speeds, plus other perks such as TV and voice calling.
Once Starlink gets approved, they might have a tough time taking over the subscribers that use this plan. At $15.60(Rs.1299), Skylink’s Platinum 1299 is more affordable than Starlink Residential in all areas globally.
Businesswise, Skylink has the premium Diamond 1999 or Diamond Plus 3999 options offering 500 Mbps and 1 Gbps, respectively. They attract $24 and $48 monthly fees, respectively.
Meanwhile, Starlink will launch in India, providing Starlink Residential. Although they have not clarified if they will offer other plans, they might also offer Starlink Business.
Starlink does have other plans, mostly popular in its dominant areas in the US, Mexico, and Canada.
Starlink RV, Maritime, and Aviation might also be available in India after approval.
Skylink plans start from $5.99 for the 50 Mbps plan to $48 for the 1Gbps plan. While this pricing model is common in broadband internet models, it might not be reliable for Starlink.
Starlink internet costs $120(Rs 9989.66) for the residential plan and up to $250(Rs. 20811.80) for Starlink Business.
Other than the monthly charges, Skylink has additional costs of just below $2 for add-ons such as TV.
Additional TV channels on Skylink broadband cost between $1.20(Rs 99) and $4.20(Rs 349).
Forum members hope Starlink will reduce their costs to about $30 to capitalize on the huge number of rural users and schools that could benefit from internet access.
It’s highly unlikely, though.
Skylink tracking is a feature in Skylink Internet that allows you to monitor how you use your monthly allocation.
While Skylink does give you unlimited data, tracking is a great way to know if you need to downgrade to save costs or upgrade to better speeds with another plan.
The Starlink data tracking feature in the phone app also allows you to track data usage and subscribe to Priority Data to increase usage.
Who Is Starlink’s Biggest Competitor In India?
India already has two giants looking to enter the satellite internet service provider space.
Bharti Airtel and Ambani’s Reliance Jio are the biggest internet providers in India. Additionally, Hughes Satellite Internet already has a presence in India.
Skylink can retain its users in its core areas, but the launch of Starlink might complicate business for them if Starlink comes in with favorable monthly rates.
Will Starlink Take Over India?
Starlink might not take over India parse. However, it will find a market for its speed and reliability.
Starlink is gradually phasing out ground stations. It is heading towards laser satellites that improve latency and reduce infrastructure costs.
Therefore, it might be a safe bet for people in areas heavily affected by annual erratic weather changes such as heavy rain and extreme heat.
Still, Starlink must deal with customer service and pricing in this new market. Service providers like Skylink Internet already have a rapport with subscribers in their dominant cities.
Skylink Internet is a reliable broadband service provider offering internet to a diverse pool of clients.
Its key cities recognize it for its affordable plans, 24/7 customer service, and add-on packages.
Starlink might challenge Skylink’s dominance in its key cities once it gets approval between 2023 and 2024.
However, Starlink will have to evaluate its pricing model in India to succeed against Reliance Jio, Hughes, and Airtel.