OneWeb, Jio Space Tech and Starlink have applied for licenses to launch satellite-based broadband internet in India

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


In summary:

  • 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


India creates 6G Technology Innovation Group without resolving crucial telecom issues


2 thoughts on “OneWeb, Jio Space Tech and Starlink have applied for licenses to launch satellite-based broadband internet in India

  1. The satellite communications space was active in 2022. SpaceX partnered with T-Mobile US; Lynk claimed to have pioneered the movement; and Microsoft Azure sought out partners to scale the satellite ecosystem for private networks in remote and edge locations; and vendors came together to advance the space.

    Rising use cases are making it clear: there is a new emerging race to space, which is expected to only accelerate heading into 2023.

  2. 10 January 2022 Update:

    OneWeb confirms successful deployment of 40 satellites launched with SpaceX

    This launch is OneWeb’s 16th to-date, with only two more launches remaining to complete its first-generation constellation enabling global connectivity in 2023.

    Lift-off took place on Sunday, 9 January 2023 at 11:50 p.m. ET (local). OneWeb’s satellites separated successfully from the rocket and were dispensed in three phases over a period of 1 hour and 35 minutes, with signal acquisition on all 40 satellites confirmed.

    With 542 satellites now in orbit, OneWeb has more than 80% of its first-generation constellation launched. With this launch, OneWeb kicks-off its ‘Countdown to Global Connectivity’ campaign marking the final launches remaining to complete its first-generation LEO satellite constellation that will offer high-speed, low-latency connectivity solutions.

    OneWeb has connectivity solutions active today with its distribution partners in Alaska, Canada, the UK, Greenland and wider Arctic area, with expanded services coming online soon across the U.S, southern Europe, Australia, Middle East and more. With each new area covered, OneWeb and its partners can provide internet connectivity to a greater number of unserved and underserved rural and remote communities and businesses.

    Neil Masterson, Chief Executive Officer of OneWeb, commented: “Today’s launch is a thrilling way to start 2023 and at OneWeb, this launch brings us even closer to completing our constellation and launching connectivity services around the world. OneWeb believes that connection everywhere changes everything and each of these launches provides us with more capacity to help our partners connect communities, businesses, and governments around the world. I want to thank SpaceX for their continued support, which has now brought about two successful launches. Every launch is a team effort, and we are grateful to everyone who makes these incredible moments possible.”

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