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Starlink pushes authorities to tap into USOF

Elon Musk-led Starlink’s broadband service from space is estimated to cost around Rs 1.58 lakh (including local taxes) in India. user terminal in the first year, and about 1.15 lakh Rs from the second year onwards. Indian leader Sanjay Bhargava has said.

Starlink has urged the country’s state governments and trade unions (UTs) to use the Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF) corps – estimated at around Rs 55,000 crore – to fund the estimated 1 year annual cost of a dedicated Starlink terminal, in addition to using their own state budget pools to increase broadband connectivity via its satellite service across state schools, police stations, health centers and other public facilities.

“The exact cost of Starlink in India is currently unknown, (but) at 30% taxes / government charges, states and UTs should consider how to finance the annual cost of Rs 1.50,000 per Starlink terminal (for year 1). ) by seeking assistance from USOF, their own budgets, or obtaining funding from other sources, ”says a Starlink user guide shared by Bhargava in his LinkedIn post.

The company’s 1.58 lakh cost estimate for the first year of a Starlink terminal in India includes $ 499 (Rs 37,400) for user equipment, a monthly service fee of $ 99 (approximately Rs 7,425) spread over one year and local taxes of 30%. .

The company has urged state governments / ICTs to conduct their own “cost-benefit analyzes” and actively consider Starlink as their preferred high-speed broadband service and has even suggested possible funding options. The post came just over a week after the Indian government stopped SpaceX’s satellite broadband arm from seeking pre-orders for its internet from the space service, as it does not have a local license.

Following the announcement from the Ministry of Communications, SpaceX withdrew its pre-order offer in India. However, Bhargava has said that Starlink – the satellite broadband arm in Musk’s SpaceX – will apply for a commercial license in India by January 31, 2022. Starlink. He added that the company is aiming for 2 lakh terminals in India in December 2022 if it is able to start rolling out by next April.

Bhargava recently said “there are currently unknown” about when potential consumers will get delivery of Starlink as the company is not yet licensed in India. However, the company has applied for trial licenses.

The user guide shared by Bhargava also notes that “Starlinks WiFi Router” can support multiple users per user. user terminal, “and that its service can be” rolled out at multi-purpose centers to be used on a shared basis “.

A WiFi router typically converts satellite signals to WiFi so that consumer devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, smart TVs, game consoles can be connected to the Internet.

A senior DoT official told ET that Starink had been warned in good time to continue receiving orders even though he did not have a license.

Prior to the government order, Starlink accepted pre-orders for the beta version of the service for a fully refundable deposit of $ 99 (approximately Rs 7,425). Bhargava has previously said that the number of pre-orders from India had exceeded 5,000 and had previously encouraged potential customers to be added to Starlink’s priority list by depositing $ 99 to avoid being put on a waiting list.

Starlink’s planned entry into India’s broadband-from-space turf faced its first challenge in March, when an industry body representing rival Bharti-backed OneWeb, Amazon, Hughes, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, among others, wrote to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and the Indian Space Research Organization urging them to stop Starlink from pre-selling the beta version of its upcoming satellite internet service in India. The Broadband Association had then claimed that Starlink did not have a valid license or authorization from the Center to offer such services in the country.

The latest developments come at a time when people like OneWeb, Starlink, Jeff Bezos-founded Amazon and the Tata-Telesat combine are poised to enter India’s emerging broadband-from-space segment and leverage their respective global orbits around the earth ( LEO)) satellite constellations.

Both SpaceX and OneWeb plan to launch broadband-from-space services next year. Industry experts see India as a large burgeoning satellite internet market with an annual short-term turnover of more than $ 1 billion. MacProTricks

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