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Trai to look at spectrum pricing for satellite-based communication companies – Times of India


NEW DELHI: With satellite-based communication companies set to get spectrum administratively, instead of through auctions, after the move was recommended in the Telecommunications Bill 2023, the government is now planning to ask regulator Trai to work out pricing and other modalities before allotting the airwaves.
While the move gets formalised after the Bill receives a green signal from Parliament, it is being seen with a lot of hope and excitement by companies looking to begin satellite communications in India.These include not only OneWeb, which is backed by Sunil Mittal’s Bharti group, but also others, such as, Elon Musk’s Starlink, American Viasat, and Jeff Bezos’ Project Kuiper.

Screenshot 2023-12-20 012740

While Starlink has approached the department of telecom (DoT) for getting the global mobile personal communication by satellite (GMPCS) services licence, One Web and Mukesh Ambani’s Jio (in partnership with Luxembourg-based SES) have already got the approval.
There is a process and procedure that Trai adopts when recommending pricing for spectrum where it is allotted administratively. While the broader terrestrial spectrum is auctioned by DoT, on reserve pricing recommendations from Trai, airwaves are also given out administratively for many services – towards national security and defence, in-flight and maritime connectivity, needs of central and state governments, and for roads, railways, metro, regional rail, inland waterways, airports, ports, pipelines, shipping, and other transport systems.
The government has decided to opt for administrative allocation in satellite communications as technically the spectrum for this purpose is a common resource and no exclusivity can be provided. This has been the practice across most of the markets where satellite-based telephony is provided.
Market analysts said satellite communications will likely be a niche area, with expected market share at only about 1% of the connectivity business, even when the handful of companies begin operations.
K Guru Gowrappan, Global President of Viasat Inc, said the company welcomes the Telecommunications Bill’s proposal to assign spectrum administratively. “Satellite spectrum auctions are impractical and come with a high cost. Satellite systems do not use spectrum exclusivity but rather share it globally through coordination.”
Lt. Gen. AK Bhatt (Retd.), DG of Indian Space Association (ISpA), called it a “progressive and forward-looking decision” and said the decision to allocate satellite spectrum through a globally-harmonised administrative method will help spur growth in the nascent space sector. “By allocating the spectrum administratively, India can align itself with international standards, promote global cooperation and also help drive innovation, create opportunities for startups, and strengthen the country’s position in the global satellite market.”


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