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SatCom to fulfill India’s Broadband for all mission

The 6th edition of Broadband India Forum’s annual flagship event – India SatCom 2020 – which is held as an e-summit owing to the pandemic – kickstarted on a high note with key industry stakeholders’ participation on November 24.

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The two-day virtual event is set on the theme ‘Satellite Broadband – The New Frontier’. The conference provided a platform to deliberate on the latest technology and policy enhancements to provide inclusive access in meeting the goals of ‘Digital India’ and ‘Broadband for All’.

The combined stakeholders in the SatCom industry believe that this year’s theme is aptly significant in light of the recent announcement by the Hon’ble Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, on the liberalization of the space sector.

The inaugural session included Dr K Sivan, Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman – ISRO as Chief Guest, with K Ramchand, Member (T), Department of Telecommunications (DoT); and G Narayanan, CMD, New Space India Ltd. (NSIL) who were the Special Guests of Honor. Gita Krishnankutty, Regional Head – Inward Investment, South India, Department for International Trade – The British High Commission and industry stalwarts also attended the session along with senior government dignitaries from NITI Aayog, TRAI, DoT, DoS, ISRO, NSIL, TEC, as well as other leading government stakeholders.

Excerpts from presentations
“ I’m sure the participants will deliberate on the new trends in SatCom technology, seamless integration with terrestrial technologies, rollout plans and finally reaching all the benefits to the citizens. The people living in unserved and under-served places should get access to these technologies in order to ensure inclusive growth.” Dr. K Sivan, Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman – ISRO

“As India touches new frontiers in delivering broadband connections, today, yet another frontier is touched as the country is at the threshold of standing poised to take broadband to remote, rural, semi-urban, and urban parts of India.

The Government’s progressive announcement of liberalization of the space sector promises opportunities to bring in new technology and solutions, along with investments and employment opportunities. This would facilitate a number of benefits, including provisioning of broadband to the unserved and underserved in a faster and efficient manner. This becomes all the more relevant in today’s scenario when the Covid-19 pandemic has necessitated Work-from-Anywhere to be the new norm and requires ubiquitous broadband connectivity across the country’s diverse landscape to facilitate the same.

The mission is to take high quality, affordable broadband to one and all in the country and India is exploring ways to take communications to that 15 to 20% of the population that is denied of even basic connectivity. Broadband in India is largely explored to meet connectivity demand in places where terrestrial communication methods are unable to reach. While emphasizing on the fact that only satellite-based communications have the right potential to deliver the last leg connectivity.

The satellite systems step-in as a ‘Great Messiah for Communications’. While terrestrial communications systems suit the urban and semi-urban parts of India, satellite-based communications are viewed as the most suitable ways to deliver basic connectivity to rural, hinterland, remote, and inaccessible areas. Broadband again becomes indispensable for in-flight, maritime, and on the land ensuring that connectivity is provided anywhere and everywhere to Indian citizens,” T V Ramachandran, President, BIF.

“The recent path-breaking advancements in satellite technology, could deliver a large amount of bandwidth to a smaller geographical area (via High Throughput Satellites), or deliver wider coverage with low latencies (via LEO/MEO constellations). These new technologies and innovations will help make broadband more affordable, available pan-India and accessible to public agencies, industries, and citizens at large. Satcom can also help augment new technologies, boost commoditization, bri and applications for a variety of services, including disaster/emergency relief and control, besides playing a complementing role in providing the backhaul infrastructure for next-generation networks,” P J Nath, MD & CEO, Tata Nelco & Chair, BIF Satcom Committee.

“It is not possible to deliver communication systems to 600,000 villages with just terrestrial-based systems. SatCom here has to be exploited as a back-fall technology to reach the end-user in remote areas. Not only in accomplishing that, SatCom is needed for the realization of 5G, AI, IoT, in-flight connectivity, and maritime communications. The Government and DoT in association with TRAI have made note of the requests from key industry players in enforcing Light Touch Regulations, ease of doing business, FDIs, and cross country collaborations in boosting the SatCom business in India,” K Ramchand, Member-Technology, DoT.

“It is a fact that India’s SatCom industry has to work hard to undergo humungous evolution as spectrums, on the other hand, have evolved from 2G to 5G. SatCom still is at a 2G kind of level and offers a lot of scope for innovation and private industry players to foray and make a difference to the SatCom of India. Policymakers and other stakeholders have to work in unity to fix convenient prices and frame policies that enable the players and most importantly startups to progress with their innovations in space-tech,” Pranav Roach, President, Hughes Network Systems India Ltd.

“India’s commercial satellite communication program, particularly the GSAT series, and its SATCOM policy has enabled the creation of a robust platform and ecosystem in the country and the United Kingdom sees a lot of similarities in the mandates laid down in the policy. She said the UK is keen on partnering with India in its space-tech endeavors and initiatives and co-achieve common SatCom mandates,” Gita Krishnankutty, Regional Head of Inward Investment, South India Department for International Trade – The British High Commission, Bengaluru.

“National Broadband Mission or Rashtriya Broadband Abhiyan will operationalize “Broadband for All”, the objective of National Digital Communications Policy–2018 (NDCP-18). NBM will bring about to bridge the digital divide in the country, fast track growth of digital communications infrastructure, facilitate digital empowerment & inclusion, and provide affordable, universal access to broadband to all,” G Narayanan, CMD, NSIL.

 India SatCom, over the years, has provided a platform to bring together all stakeholders of the SatCom ecosystem to discuss the latest technology enhancements that may be leveraged to tap the true potential of satellite communications,” K Aravamudhan, Senior Vice President, STAR TV Network.

Day Two scheduled today has two sessions.
The theme of session one is, Making IFMC Services a major success in India. Chaired by SK Gupta, Secretary, TRAI,  other speakers are Aditya Chatterjee, Senior Vice President, Aero Market Segment Solutions, SES;  Daniel Alex, Business Head, Nelco;  Gautam Sharma, Managing Director, Inmarsat and N Jairam, Senior Director, Hughes Communications India Ltd. The Q&A session shall be moderated by Debashish Bhattacharya, DDG, BIF and the vote of thanks by Arun Mukarji, Sr Director, Operations, BIF.

The theme of the second session is Rural Broadband – Satcom’s Role.  Chaired by R Shakya, DDG (Satellite), DoT other speakers are Harsh Verma, Sales Director for Fixed Data Asia, SES Networks; Manik Vinnakota, Director – Commercial & Product Development, Telesat, James Taylor, Director, Business & Market Development, Methera Global, Prashant Butani, Senior Sales Director, Measat, and Shivaji Chatterjee, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Business Unit, Hughes Communications India Limited (HCIL). The Q&A session shall be moderated by Debashish Bhattacharya, DDG, BIF and the vote of thanks by Rajat Mukarji, DG, BIF. BCS Bureau

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