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Spacecom policy might receive approval from union cabinet by April

In the latest unfolding of events, the Union cabinet is potentially going to approve India’s much-awaited Spacecom policy by April 2022. Satellite companies launch broadband from space service via low-earth orbit (LEO) and medium earth orbit (MEO) satellite constellations and the new Spacecom policy will create a framework for the licenses, permissions and authorisations required by both global and local satellite companies. Let’s find out more.

The director-general of Indian Space Association (ISpA), Lt. Gen. Anil Bhatt informed that the draft policy is expected to be submitted to the Space Commission shortly and when approved, it could be placed before the Cabinet by end-March or early-April for final clearance. It is to be noted that ISpA is a grouping of space and satellite companies.

He further informed that the policy is likely to specify the “licences, permissions and authorisations” that Satcom firms require from the Department of Space, the Department of Telecommunications and the Indian National Space Promotion & Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe). These authorisations are necessary to operate satellite internet services in the LEO/MEO domains and also set up earth stations (gateways) in the country.

The Indian government had recently decided to exclude Elon Musk’s Starlink from accepting pre-orders for its satellite broadband services in India, however, Bhatt believes that it will not put off other global satellite players from investing in India. He stated that the Starlink issue should not affect any FDI inflows in the country as the government treats all satellite operators equally and fairly. He further said that Starlink will also be able to overcome its issues around licences/permissions and launch services in India.

As far as broadband from space services are considered, ISpA is counting on the government to support the budding industry by offering subsidies so that services can become affordable for the common man. It has been warned by the industry association that any move to auction 28 GHz spectrum for 5G services would make satellite broadband unaffordable and discourage global operators from investing in India. The industry association includes members such as Bharti Group-backed OneWeb, US-based Hughes and Tata group company Nelco. TelecomTalk

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