On December 13th, the chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), PD Vaghela, said that India will be the first country in the world to auction spectrum for satellite communications. Noting that India’s telecom regulator (DoT was working on the matter, he added that TRAI will soon come out with ‘some sort of a model’ for the auction of space spectrum.
Addressing the Broadband India Forum summit, Vaghela said that TRAI has received a reference from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on the allocation of the spectrum and other allied aspects. He added that TRAI plans to streamline the process of seeking permissions from multiple ministries. In this regard, the regulator will make recommendations to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Communications and the Ministry of Space to ensure ease of doing business in the sector. “Any system that we will be bringing is to actually encourage and promote investment in the sector, and not increase any burden,” added Vaghela.
Responding to questions about the status of the consultation paper on the spectrum action for satellite communication, TRAI chief said that the telecom authority was deliberating with experts and regulators globally to arrive at a suitable framework. The paper could see the light of the day only after these discussions are over. He reiterated that nanosatellites coupled with other emerging technologies would drive innovation and bridge the digital divide.
“Nanosatellites and satellite Internet of Things (IoT) would drive the next generation of technology and such innovations are expected to enable connectivity across industries and empower it and the upcoming 6G capability. Innovations in satellite ground stations, orbital services, payloads, operational systems and artificial intelligence would enable satellites to perform more complex functions,” the chairman said.
TRAI chairman’s comments have come at a time when the satellite communications arena is witnessing rapid developments. In the recently released Telecommunications Bill, 2022, the government has sought to extend the scope of telecommunication services to include satellite-based communication services.
Alongside, the center is also looking at new technologies to increase the penetration of the internet. Recently, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that satellite communications would play a key role in delivering internet services to 1.2 Bn Indians by 2025-26.
The government recently also announced a slew of reforms for the satcom space. The center has relaxed norms for obtaining the Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite (GMPCS) license, which is mandatory to operate as a Satcom player in India.
So far, usual telecom players are looking to grab a pie of this burgeoning space. In the race are Airtel-backed OneWeb and Jio Space Tech. Besides, Elon Musk‘s Starlink has also applied for a license to launch satellite-based broadband in India.
As per a report, the global demand for satellite applications is expected to soar to $7 Bn by 2031. On similar lines, the overarching Indian space industry is projected to grow to $13 Bn by 2025, with the satellite launch services segment expected to garner the fastest growth.
TRAI Chairman PD Vaghela addressing Broadband India Forum
- TRAI is said to have already received a reference from DoT for the auction of the spectrum
- TRAI will send recommendations to multiple ministries to streamline the process of permissions and enhance ease of doing business
- The government targets to deliver internet services to 1.2 B India residents by 2025-26