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Telecom department to consult Trai on satcom spectrum allocation and licensing process

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In Short:

DoT plans to seek Trai’s views on spectrum allocation and license scope for satellite communication services. The consultation paper on “Assignment of Spectrum for Space-based Communication Services” was returned to DoT after the new Telecommunications Act announcement. Satcom technology provides internet connectivity in remote areas. OneWeb, Jio Satcom, and Starlink are key players in the satcom space in India. Licences may need to be fine-tuned to align with the new Telecommunications Act.


Department of Telecommunications to Seek Trai’s Views on Spectrum Allocation for Satcom Services

By Prasoon Srivastava

New Delhi: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is expected to approach Trai this month to seek the regulator’s views on method and pricing for allocation of spectrum and scope of licences to be issued for satcom services, according to sources. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had floated a consultation paper on “Assignment of Spectrum for Space-based Communication Services” on April 6, 2023 but returned the reference back to DoT after announcement of new Telecommunication Act.

Seeking Clarification on Spectrum Allocation

According to a source who preferred to remain anonymous, DoT will seek views of Trai on pricing and methodology to allocate spectrum for space-based communication services. In addition, there may be efforts to adjust existing licences to provide more clarity on the services that satcom companies with administratively allocated spectrum can offer.

Satcom technology enables service providers to ensure internet connectivity in remote or challenging areas. Bharti Group-backed OneWeb and Reliance Group Jio Satcom have already received licences for satellite telephony and VSAT services. Elon Musk’s Starlink has also applied for permission to operate satcom services in India.

Adapting to New Regulations

OneWeb and Starlink have significant satellite constellations in low earth orbit, with Starlink leading the way with over 4,000 LEO satellites. As per the source, there is a need to align VSAT licence norms with the new Telecommunications Act, as there are discrepancies that need to be addressed.

Under the Telecommunications Act 2023, satellite communication companies can obtain spectrum for point-to-point communications without auction. However, there are provisions related to VSAT services that may require further clarification to ensure compliance with the new regulations.

Future Course of Action

The source emphasized the importance of fine-tuning licences for satcom services in accordance with Trai’s recommendations. The decision on permits issued to satcom service providers will be based on Trai’s insights and guidance.

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