The new policy for the satellite communication sector is in the offing. The Cabinet is expected to announce it by April 2023. The proposed move would promote private investment with increased private sector participation and could initiate the rise of India’s own SpaceX-like ventures. It will facilitate technology transfer, using ISRO infrastructure, and consulting.
With the space sector now privatised, Reliance Jio’s Space Technology Ltd. and Bharti Airtel-backed OneWeb are getting ready to provide satellite-based internet services. Jio has applied to DoT for GMPCS licence. Musk’s Starlink, Amazon’s Project Kuiper and the Tata-Telesat combine have also expressed interest in India, though specific timelines have not been announced.
E&Y estimates India’s satellite services market would grow to $4.7 billion by 2025 – from nil now – as nearly 75% of rural India does not have access to broadband as many locations are still without cellular or fibre connectivity.
The policy will address issues as:
- The automatic FDI route is not open yet to private satellite players, unlike telecom operators. At present, all FDI proposals, including relevant technical applications in satellites, have to be cleared by the Department of Space.
- Indian National Space Promotion & Authorisation Centre’s role will be defined clearly. It is expected that the policy will authorise it to issue the vital landing rights and market access clearances.
Spacecom is emerging the new disruptor in telecommunications. With broadband coming through satcom, India will see a large percentage of rural areas, unconnected areas, places so far not touched by terrestrial operators connected. Space communication will supplement terrestrial communication, enhancing the capacity required to make digital India possible.
Essentially, spacecom is coming as a single window for private industry to interact with.