While companies like Starlink and HughesNet are racing to launch satellites and networks in the USA, there has been no such initiative in India. However, small inklings of the satellite network ecosystem are starting to come up in India as well. The factors working for growth on this front are both from the side of the government, as well as the market forces.
The satellite communication system is one of the latest tech revolutions which is slated to change the way we use network systems currently. While the race of 4G and 5G along with wired broadband is limited to terrestrial networks, the satellite broadband technology is something that will easily defeat the roadblocks faced by the currently used networks. While companies like Starlink and HughesNet are racing to launch satellites and networks in the USA, there has been no such initiative in India. However, small inklings of the satellite network ecosystem are starting to come up in India as well. The factors working for growth on this front are both from the side of the government, as well as the market forces. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has also issued new guidelines based on the terms of references obtained from the government, regarding the use of satellite communication for low-band devices.
Satellite Communication in India
The limitation currently is that the low band devices constitute low-bandwidth gadgets, which are mostly in the category of Internet of Things. These devices do not require a lot of bandwidth and can function with the exchange of a few packets over the network. Such services would be vastly useful in the context of rural areas, which the government has badly wanted to connect through the means of the Community Service Centres (CSCs), Bharat Air Fibre and many other means. The ushering of satellite communication could make this possible in a very versatile and efficient manner.
The current guidelines on the use of satellite communication networks set a good precedent in this regard. However, there has been no say from TRAI about the spectrum allocation in the satellite communications sector. For this, the DoT would have to issue another term of reference to the sector regulator to which the regulator would then make a draft. The government has been trying hard to make satellite communication, a viable space for tech companies and consumers alike. When the technology arrives, there will be many uses cases for it. The TRAI has also allowed the companies to now buy licences for satellite services from foreign entities, this opens many doors for the companies in India who might want to roll out certain services or research use cases for a more widespread SatCom rollout in the country in later stages.
Push from Both Public and Private Sector
Further, there is a demand from Broadband India Forum (BIF) about the launch of a portal that would allow easy information access and streamlines registration for the companies interested in buying the licenses and these services. If the portal is set up it would be another progressive step for the proliferation of Satellite communication services. The government’s plans of making a new entity, New Space India Ltd (NSIL) along with the private sector’s push, for example, the development of Satellite Access Terminals by Bharti Airtel paints a hopeful picture for the satellite broadband technology in India. Telecom Talk