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Starlink likely to get govt’s nod to offer satellite internet

Elon Musk’s satellite communication service provider Starlink is likely to get the government’s approval next week, enabling the company to offer broadband Internet services to end-users using satellite. Mukesh Ambani-led Jio Satellite Communications and Sunil Bharti-led OneWeb (Bharti Enterprises) have already received such licenses from the government.

Sources told businessline that Starlink has replied to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), which had sought clarifications from the company on the shareholding pattern.

In 2020, the DPIIT amended its foreign investment policy that included a clause for prior government approval for companies investing in India, to declare if they have any shareholding or investment in countries sharing a land border with India, for national security reasons.

Move contested
Starlink, however, had contested the move citing the US privacy laws that bar companies from making a full disclosure on shareholding. However, the DoT sought clarifications on the privacy laws of other countries that could be a valid reason for not sharing complete shareholding patterns from the Ministry of Commerce.

The company had sought a global mobile personal communication by satellite service (GMPCS) license to start commercial space broadband services in India. It has given a declaration that none of its investors are from any country that shares a land border with India (including China). “Both the Secretary (Telecom) and the Minister (Ashwini Vaishnaw) are abroad, but once they are back this week, DoT may issue the letter of intent (LoI) to Starlink by Wednesday,” a source privy to the matter told businessline.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is preparing a note for approval by the Secretary and the Minister, following which the Satellite Communications Wing (SCW) of the department will issue the approval to the company, said another source.

While Telecom Secretary Neeraj Mittal is in the US for the PanIIT 2024 Global Conference in Washington DC, Minister Vaishnaw is in Davos for the World Economic Forum. Starlink will be the third company to get a GMPCS license after OneWeb and Jio Satellite who got the licenses in 2022.

Currently, OneWeb is the only company to get approval from the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) which is required for the deployment of global satellite bandwidth capacity within the country.

According to sources, Jio has also completed all requisite submissions to IN-SPACe and is soon likely to get the authorisation. These are mandatory requisites before starting their operations for providing the services. The Hindu BusinessLine

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