Spectrum allocation for satcom delayed, reference to Trai after elections

  • Allocation of spectrum for satellite broadband services will take another four to six months, as the terms of reference may go out only after elections.

Gulveen Aulakh
First Published7 May 2024
The new telecom law enacted last year has cleared the way for allocation of satellite broadband spectrum without the need for auctioning it.
The new telecom law enacted last year has cleared the way for allocation of satellite broadband spectrum without the need for auctioning it.

New Delhi: Allocation of spectrum for satellite broadband services will take another four to six months, as the terms of reference that the telecom department plans to send to the sector regulator for recommendations may go out only after elections.

According to people familiar with the development, the government may ask the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to consult on the methodology of allocation of the airwaves and the framework of the licensee so that they are future ready.

Ensuring sovereignty

The terms of reference may also include ensuring sovereignty of the country where regulations may be framed enabling access to law enforcement agencies on the lines of existing telecom licences. The people cited above said existing licences may be altered depending on the recommendations given by Trai. One of the people noted that the terms will be set in accordance with the new telecom law.

Also read |  Amazon finalizing application for satcom licence in India

The new telecom law enacted last year has cleared the way for allocation of satellite broadband spectrum without the need for auctioning it. Satellite spectrum is crucial because a number of large players have plans to launch satellite services in India.

Key among them are Bharti Group-backed Eutelsat OneWeb, Reliance’s Jio Satellite Communications, Elon Musk’s Starlink and Amazon’s Project Kuiper.  

Airwaves allocation

Trai had begun consultations on allocation methodology for satellite spectrum in 2022. It held several rounds of consultations including an open-house discussion last year but did not issue any recommendations. The regulator had sought views on whether auctions should have a mechanism for allocation of airwaves for satellite-based communication services. With the new telecom law being enacted the consultation became infructuous.

Also read |  Telecom regulator to revive talks on spectrum allocation

Bharti Group-backed Eutelsat OneWeb and Reliance’s Jio Satellite Communications are the only players that have got a global mobile personal communication by satellite or GMPCS licence. Following the licence, spectrum is needed for the companies to begin services in India.

Delays in the allocation of airwaves would therefore mean delays in the companies’ plans to launch services. Both the companies say they can start offering services soon after receiving spectrum from the government.

Elon Musk’s Starlink and Amazon’s Project Kuiper are also among applicants for the GMPCS licence.

 

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