Broadband India Forum held its Third International Annual Satcom summit India SatCom-2017 in New Delhi.   Minister of Communications  Manoj Sinha was the Chief Guest at the summit. The summit was kicked-off with the release of ‘Bits & Bytes’ the BIF Newsletter by  RS Sharma –Chairperson, TRAI and  Rajat Kathuria-Director & Chief Executive, ICRIER. The formal release of White Paper on ‘Satellite Broadband & Digital India’ was done by   Manoj Sinha during the plenary cum valedictory session. The event was attended by Ms. Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary-Telecom who also delivered the special keynote address. The summit was attended by leading Industry experts from India and abroad and other members of Satcom and Broadband ecosystem.   

India Satcom - 2017 was attended by representatives from Leading Satellite Operators, VSAT Service Providers, Telecom Service Providers, Internet Service Providers, Technology Providers, VSAT Manufacturers, Cable Service Providers, User Organisations (Banks, Oil & Gas, Defence, Security Forces, etc.), DTH Service Providers, Broadcasters and other allied industries.

The Summit delved into various issues including the sector’s efforts to deliver connectivity and Broadband to the remote and difficult to access parts of the country, satellite mobility, inflight connectivity, new technologies and innovations etc.  It also dwelled on leveraging the satellite communication technologies - existing & next generation as well, to expedite the penetration of affordable broadband in India particularly in remote and rural areas as complementary to other broadband technologies including wireline and wireless technologies. The conference also deliberated on policy and regulation related issues to find out the way forward for deployment of Next Gen Satellite communications technologies. 

The findings of the White paper released during the event highlight that the country’s continued dearth of communications satellites has severely compromised India’s ability to bridge the digital divide. There is approximately a 50 percent mismatch between the current demand for communications satellites and its supply, leading to shortfall in meeting the demand from the enterprise and commercial segments besides others. The paper also highlights that Indian communications satellites are still operating in the C and Ku band while more developed countries have moved to the higher capacity Ka band over 2 decades ago. 

The White Paper was formally released by  Manoj Sinha,  Minister of Communications,  government. of India, in the presence of senior Government dignitaries from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), C-DOT, BSNL and other leading Government and Private Technology stakeholders including leading industry experts from the satellite communications industry-both within India and abroad.

In his address,  Manoj Sinha,  Minister for Communications,  government of India said, “The new National Telecom Policy 2018 seeks to enable the  PM’s vision of Digital India by which all its 1.3 billion citizens will be digitally empowered. As a part of its technology agnostic policy, it will pay significant attention to satellite communications which has the power and the ability to provide affordable digital connectivity to the unserved and underserved. The endeavor of the government is to accelerate the rollout of affordable internet to every Indian with the use of new and innovative technologies and satellite broadband is one of the many routes that we will pay more attention to.”

Dr. Rajat Kathuria, Director and Chief Executive, ICRIER said, “I firmly believe India needs to exploit satellite broadband to a greater degree than it has done in the past. The country should be more open to this progressive technology and encourage the adoption of new and innovative technologies in this area.  Whether it be the opening up of the Ka band or launching High Throughput Satellites (HTS), or permitting setting up Low Earth Orbit / Medium Earth Orbit satellite constellations, high speed satellite broadband will complement existing terrestrial technologies and bring down tariffs substantially, benefiting enterprise and consumers alike.” 

On her part, Ms. Aruna Sundarajan, Telecom Secretary and Chairman, Telecom Commission,  government of India said, “Digital Transformation is not a luxury but a critical necessity today. It is in this context that the role of the upcoming National Telecom Policy 2018 becomes very significant. The Government is committed to un-locking the potential of the satellite broadband industry by providing much-needed impetus to the sector to ensure that it can augment the efforts of the wireline and wireless technologies to provide affordable and accessible broadband everywhere by connecting the unserved and the underserved and thereby help bridge the digital divide. We also believe that opening the sector can provide an impetus to Make-in-India and open the possibility of additional jobs in a high growth and high-tech sector.”

T.V. Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum said, “With almost a billion Indians still without access to the internet, India continues to struggle to bridge the digital divide. India’s communications satellites can play an important role in bridging this divide by moving up the value chain and embracing the Ka-band platform. The world is today launching high throughput satellites in the range of 100s of Gigabytes to enable ubiquitous internet penetration across both urban and rural areas to provide for much needed economic growth. Satellite broadband capacity, which if gainfully exploited, will meet some of the capacity and coverage shortfall to begin with and can be suitably harnessed to deliver affordable, reliable and ubiquitous broadband across the country.” 

Globally, the satellite industry is growing by leaps and bounds. The overall space market is about US$ 323 Billion, of which nearly 40 percent is for commercial communications. The rest are for various strategic segments like scientific, military, navigation, earth observation etc. There are about 1400 satellites in operation, of which 37 percent are commercial communication satellites. Given India’s vast and extremely diverse topography comprising plains, deserts, forests and mountains, the reach of terrestrial broadband to cover every segment of population, especially those living in remote and inaccessible areas is not only difficult but also expensive. SatCom can not only cover these regions and offer effective broadband coverage to these regions at reasonable prices with faster deployment. SatCom can also be used to create points of presence for distribution of capacities by wireless or wireline in the last mile radius of 50 to 100 kms. 

India’s present level of 20 percent broadband penetration does little to ensure that the country can meet its goals of achieving Digital India, enabling Smart Cities or ensure 100 percent financial inclusion for its citizens in a timely manner. In a vast and diverse country like India, 100 percent broadband penetration cannot be achieved with a single technology. This requires a combination of multiple technologies that are terrain and environment agnostic. With the new high throughput technologies and innovations available in SatCom today, India could leapfrog to a whole new level of broadband penetration not just by connecting remote areas but also be able to offer an affordable choice of access to customers and enterprise in urban areas as well. - Communications Today Bureau 



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