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Jio opposes the commercial use of satellite spectrum without auction

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In Short:

Reliance Jio has written to the telecom department arguing against using satellite spectrum for commercial services like fixed wireless access without auction. The company believes that allowing this would give satellite firms an unfair advantage over telecom operators. Both Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel see FWA as crucial for monetizing 5G in areas where laying fiber is not feasible. The government is finalizing rules for spectrum allocation for satellite services, with a focus on balancing the interests of different players.

Reliance Jio Urges Telecom Department to Restrict Satellite Spectrum Use for 5G Only through Auction

Reliance Jio has requested the telecom department to refrain from allowing satellite spectrum allocated administratively to be utilized for commercial services such as fixed wireless access (FWA), citing it as a 5G-specific use case that should only be available through auctioned spectrum. Officials familiar with the matter shared that Reliance Jio has communicated this stance to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

In the event that DoT decides to permit FWA for satellite communication (satcom) players, Reliance Jio proposed that companies reimbursed the auctioned spectrum amount. The telecom giant emphasized that the allotment of spectrum for commercial services must be auction-based to ensure equity among operators.

5G Strategy and Market Overview

Reliance Jio, spearheaded by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, is among the contenders vying for a license in India’s closely observed satellite spectrum allocation. The company’s push for auctioned spectrum aligns with their strategic approach towards FWA as a critical element for 5G readiness. Both Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are banking on FWA as a means to capitalize on 5G opportunities, particularly in areas where traditional fiber connectivity is challenging to deploy.

Reliance Jio expressed concerns that permitting satcom firms to offer FWA services through administratively allocated spectrum could potentially disadvantage telecom operators. The company advocated for satellite spectrum allocation through auction to maintain fair competition in the market.

Regulatory Developments and Market Potential

The DoT is currently finalizing regulations pertaining to the administrative allocation of spectrum for satellite communication, potentially restricting direct service offerings to retail customers by satcom companies. As the industry gears up for satellite service launches, players like Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are positioning themselves to capture the growing opportunities in the satellite communications market.

According to an EY-ISpA report, India’s space economy is projected to reach $13 billion by 2025, indicating significant growth potential in the satellite communications sector, particularly in underserved rural and remote areas.

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