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Govt. says Elon Musk’s Starlink not a licensee; asks to refrain from booking satellite internet services

The government on Friday said Starlink Internet Services is not licensed to offer satellite-based internet services in India, and advised the public not to subscribe to services that are being advertised by the Elon Musk-backed company without a requisite licence in the country.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) also asked Starlink to comply with the regulatory framework for offering satellite-based communication services, and refrain from booking/rendering satellite internet services in India “with immediate effect”.

DoT made it clear that the company should “get licence before offering Satellite-based services”.

The department, in a statement, said it has come to notice that Starlink has started pre-selling/booking of the satellite based Starlink Internet Services in India.

The same is also evident from the website of Starlink wherein satellite-based internet services can be booked by users in Indian territory, DoT noted.

“Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications, Government of India has pointed out that ‘Starlink Internet Services’ is not licensed to offer satellite-based internet services in India being advertised to the public,” the statement said.

Offering satellite based services in India requires requisite license from the government.

“It is hereby informed to the public at large that the said company has not obtained any license/authorization for rendering satellite based internet services that are being booked on their website,” it said.

Given that Starlink is not a licensee, “the public is advised not to subscribe to Starlink services being advertised”, it added.

The statement by DoT deals a blow to billionaire Elon Musk-led SpaceX’s satellite broadband arm Starlink, which has been bullish about its India market plans, and had started taking pre-bookings for satellite broadband services.

The company aims to start broadband service in India from December 2022, with 2 lakh active terminals, subject to permission from the government.

Starlink Country Director for India Sanjay Bhargava, in a social media post earlier, had said that the pre-order from India has crossed 5,000 and the company is keen to work in rural areas for providing broadband services.

The services of the company will compete with that of Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea in broadband and it will be a direct competitor to Bharti Group-backed OneWeb. PTI

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