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Auctioning satellite-based spectrum will hurt space industry growth, ISpA

India’s nascent space industry has made a strong pitch for administrative allocation of satellite-based spectrum, saying the auction route could hit the growth of the sector.

Indian Space Association (ISpA) Director General Lt Gen A K Bhatt (retd.) said auctioning the satellite-based spectrum will create a “barrier” to growth and may impact the innovation drive of the space sector start-ups.

ISpA is the industry body of private space sector companies that acts as a bridge with the government.

In an interaction with PTI, Bhatt said opting for the auction of space-based spectrum would amount to killing the golden goose as the space sector was set to witness rapid growth in the country as it demonstrated its prowess by undertaking complex missions such as Chandrayaan-3.

Mobile telecom players such as Reliance Jio have been insisting that the government opt for auction of space-based spectrum.

“Many say if you don’t give it by auction, you will get less money. Yes, I agree with it. But, if you are looking at space, you are looking at technology and opportunity for the future,” Bhatt said.

He said globally, countries have opted for administrative allocation of space-based spectrum.

“If you auction it, you are artificially increasing the price and creating a barrier for a nascent industry to grow,” Bhatt said, adding India currently has a mere two per cent share in the global space economy.

Bhatt said space communication has the potential to reach the remotest corners in India which continue to be unserved by broadband connectivity.

“Space-based spectrum can overcome the digital divide and provide services such as education, healthcare and fintech to remote regions of the country,” he said.

Bhatt said satellite communication sector was on the cusp of growth and was crucial if India wanted to have a larger share in the global space economy which is pegged to touch one-trillion-dollars by 2030.

The ISpA official said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had emphasised on the need for growth of the space sector in his interaction with ISRO scientists and also in his monthly Mann ki Baat radio programme.

“So, if this sector has to grow as the prime minister has visualised, we need to get this very important aspect of allocation of spectrum correctly,” Bhatt said.

Referring to the Supreme Court order of 2012 holding that telecom spectrum be allowed only through an auction process, Bhatt said the judgment only addressed the 2G spectrum sale.

“The Presidential Reference clarified that the decision to allocate spectrum was for that specific case (2G spectrum allocation), and not a universal direction or guideline,” he said.

Bhatt said the Presidential Reference also made it clear that natural resources should be allocated by the government by a method they deem as the most appropriate. PTI

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