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Don’t let 2G row derail India’s space ambitions, ISpA

Indian Space Association (ISpA), the industry body representing space sector start-ups, made a strong pitch for administrative allocation of space-based spectrum, saying the overhang of the 2G spectrum row should not be a deterrence in any move in this direction.

ISpA Director General Lt Gen A K Bhatt (retd) said the Presidential reference in the 2G issue should be seen in “more detail” and there was a need to pay attention to the issue where it says that for the common good auction is not the only method and other methods can be exercised by the government.

“We have to see the public good and the social impact and not the economic value of allocation because, if only economic value for revenues is important, space is at a weaker wicket compared to terrestrial communication,” he said in submission to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

Bhat said space has to be a “co-traveller, in overcoming the digital divide in the country.

“Space provides connectivity to the furthest corners in India and today where rural internet is only 38.93 per cent, this can overcome the digital divide and provide services including vital services for education, health care, and everything to the furthest corner,” he said.

“And of course, we recommend that all our members believe that if spectrum is assigned by administrative method, this opportunity will grow more,” Bhatt said.

He cautioned that if spectrum was auctioned, it will fragment and unnecessarily divide a very vital resource. “If our aim is growth, opportunity, and getting the smaller, new startups which are the larger part of space, who have opportunities and especially in certain areas like telemetry, usage in earth observation and usage for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and remote sensing, we need to protect the interests by not auctioning the spectrum,” Bhatt said. Trai is expected to come out with its recommendation on the allocation of spectrum for space-based communication to the industry. The authority in April launched a consultation paper in April to seek comments and counter comments from stakeholders on various aspects of the allocation of space spectrum. PTI

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