Home / News / India /  NCLT approves merger of Airtel-Hughes VSAT satellite operations

New Delhi: The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has approved the merger of VSAT, or very small aperture terminal, satellite operations of Bharti Airtel Ltd with Hughes Communications India Ltd and the latter’s subsidiary HCIL Comtel Pvt Ltd, according to a stock exchange filing on Thursday.

The New Delhi bench of the tribunal passed the order on 23 March, Bharti Airtel said.

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In May 2019, telecom major Bharti Airtel and HCIL said they will combine their VSAT satellite operations in the country, with Hughes holding a majority stake in the merged entity.

“NCLT has, vide its order dated 23 March, 2021, subject to the applicable sectoral approvals, sanctioned the composite scheme of arrangement between Bharti Airtel, Bharti Airtel Services Ltd, HCIL and HCIL Comtel, and their respective shareholders and creditors," Airtel said.

VSAT is used to provide satellite-based telecom and internet access to individuals and enterprise users. Banks and automated teller machines (ATMs) use the medium extensively.

In January, Japan’s SoftBank Group and Hughes Network Systems LLC invested $400 million in OneWeb, a broadband satellite communications company acquired by a consortium of investors comprising the UK government and Mittal-led Bharti Global.

OneWeb plans to start high-speed internet services in India by mid-2022.

In December, it had launched 36 satellites from Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia, taking the total to 110. OneWeb aims to have a total of 648 low-earth orbit satellites as part of its plan to deliver high-speed and low-latency broadband services globally.

Mittal in November had told Mint that OneWeb will boost rural broadband connectivity in India and other developing countries, including those in Africa.

For 5G services, satellite network will play an important role as it will reach areas where fibre and radio airwaves cannot penetrate, Mittal said.

The cost of using a satellite network is the highest among the three mediums, and thus, fibre and spectrum will be the preferred modes of transmission of data wherever they will be available, he added.

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